“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.” -Matthew 11:21
Dear members and friends of the Swedenborgian Church,
Some of us may have a belief that Jesus was always very gentle and kind to all people, and thus we should be gentle and kind to each other no matter what. However, the truth that we find in Gospels is quite opposite. Jesus was always very blunt, frank, and direct when expressing his thoughts to the people, especially on matters of the spirit. It is certainly true, of course, that Jesus as the incarnate divine was the embodiment of divine love, and thus Jesus loved and loves all humans unconditionally. But, it does not mean that Jesus loves all mental and spiritual conditions expressed and embodied by humans. There is a big difference between loving a person as a whole and loving all mental states and projections of the person. More importantly, Jesus didn’t necessarily love humans in the way we would expect, but rather with a certain divinely-mandated purpose: humans should overcome their selfishness by removing inner obstacles, and thus become beings who are receptive of love and wisdom from the divine. This means that Jesus did not care so much how an individual might feel about his comments/teachings when he perceives a deep need to express his thoughts frankly and directly in regard to the inner obstacles in people’s minds.
Loving a person truly, according to Jesus, is to be able to perceive and advise what that person needs for his/her spiritual cultivation as it becomes real in life. Because after all, without spiritual cultivation our minds would not become receptive to love and wisdom from the divine. The two keywords that need our attention are “spiritual” and “cultivation.” Spiritual is used because this inner cultivation needs to take place on a deeper dimension than our psychological selves along with an acknowledge of one’s true identity as a spiritual being. Cultivation is used because this spiritual growth is not an automatic process nor can it be done by someone else or taken/purchased from others, but only achieved by one’s intentionality and persistency. So, what happens to those who refuse to engage in spiritual cultivation? Sadly, their minds will continually grow to be distant from what is divine, which is the source of love and spiritual joy, because their minds are fully attached to matters of the physical reality only, and eventually become inseparable from this attachment. Therefore, when Jesus cried out saying “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida!,” he did not mean to curse them at all, but to wake them up from their spiritual slumber in the illusion that this world is everything that there is. This method is often used in the Old Testament as well, whenever God intends to warn people of the final destination of where they were heading according to their spiritual conditions at that moment. Our responsibility is to listen to this warning very carefully, and to do something about it immediately and effectively.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee