Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. –Matthew 7:15&16
Dear members and friends of the Swedenborgian Church,
When I read Matthew 7:15 & 16 for the first time, I thought to myself, “Yes, Lord, I will be aware of those wolves in sheep’s clothing!” Then, as time passed, I realized the ugly truth that sometimes I was the wolf in sheep’s clothing! Right within the core of my own heart was a deeply-rooted and hidden desire: ultimately, I care only about my own well-being physically and mentally, and thus I am willing to put my needs before any others. This truth shocked me deeply and painfully, especially when a voice whispered to my heart, “just deny it, then it will disappear.” I was terrified not because of the selfishness that existed within me, but because of the fact that I could ignore if I wanted. Yet, I knew I could not really comply to that whisper because doing so would make everything worse at the end. Instead, I decided to do a daily practice of meditation and deep prayer until I knew how to proceed. This was the very first step that led me to the life of an ordained clergy. I said “yes” to this path not because I believed in God more faithfully than others, or because I had a great vision to help the needy and the troubled, but because I perceived for sure that the ultimate purpose of my life as an ordained clergy would not be selfish and self-centered. In other words, I perceived that living as a minister might transform myself from being a wolf in sheep’s cloth into a real and truthful sheep who follows the Lord in humility and with innocence.
Such inward reflection and looking for our most challenging flaws is very difficult for most people, myself included. Often, we try to find culprits of our troubles outside ourselves first before looking inward. I am certainly guilty of this practice! But increasingly it seems that we are living in a social culture in which when things go wrong, people do their best to find the outside cause or reason. For better or worse, the focus of people seems to be finding “how to fix the problem” instead of asking “why do we have this problem?” Blaming others for trouble certainly works because I/we do not have to take any responsibility. And, fixing the apparent problem often rewards us with a feeling that we have done a great service and/or achieved something meaningful. Yet, what I have learned in my 27 years of spiritual cultivation is that most big problems in my life were often caused by my own mind, and that some serious problems in my life would never go away until I search and found the root cause of it and dealt with it properly. This learning gave me patience and perseverance, the combination of which has helped me have hope and stay positive even when I am in the middle of a very troublesome situation or time. Our Lord Jesus describes the reality of our spiritual journey wonderfully and truthfully in Matthew 7, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it (13-14).”
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee