Out of this world

 from Brian Kingslake, "Out of This World ! Lay-bys on the Road to Heaven (James: Evesham Worc.,  England, 1978)

Table of  Contents


Chapter 9


The psychiatrist Dr. Mowrer used to say to his patients when they came to him in trouble: "Blame nobody but yourself!" This annoyed some of them. They would protest, "But it wasn't my fault! The other fellow was to blame." To this Dr Mowrer would reply, "Maybe. I am not questioning that. But, don't you see? The other fellow is not my patient. He has his own problems, no doubt, but he has not come to me for help. You have done! It is you I am dealing with, not him. For us to blame the other fellow would be a sheer waste of time. If your own condition is to be improved, we must find out where you are to blame, and deal with that."

If ever we get into any kind of trouble, we ourselves are usually to blame in some degree. It takes two to make a quarrel, and we sometimes provoke people without realizing it. Even if we are absolutely innocent and entirely sinned against, it still rests with us as to how we react. Some people get hurt more easily than others. They even take pride in it, saying, "I'm so sensitive !"   as if it were something to brag about. But the really mature soul is not hurt by slights, insults, annoyances and frustrations which get the weakling down. The very fact that you are hurt is the thing for which you should blame yourself. Think of the martyrs who underwent agonizing torture, praising God with their last breath. Nothing that anyone could do had power to hurt them. They were immune. "Fear not them which kill the body," said Jesus, "but are not able to kill the soul." Nobody has power to hurt the real you. Nobody, that is to say, except yourself.

Suppose someone hits me on the jaw and breaks one of my teeth. This is extremely painful, physically, but it does not hurt me spiritually. On the other hand, if I get furiously angry with him, and desire to hit him back even harder than he hit me, and break, if possible, two of his teeth, then I am hurt spiritually. Fortunately this is under my control! I can check the feeling of hate, overcome my resentment, bring myself into a state of forgiveness as a child of God. Then I am spiritually unharmed. If I do receive spiritual harm, I have only myself to blame.

Jesus said: "Resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you." Some say that this teaching is highly impractical and dangerous; that if we never attempted to defend or protect ourselves we should be exposed to all sorts of abuses. But I don't think this is what Jesus meant. A Christian is surely entitled to protect himself and his property in a reasonable and responsible manner. If I am going along a dark alley and some shady character attacks me and tries to snatch my wallet, I must surely defend myself. In civilized communities the citizens pay the police to protect them. It is a policeman's duty to apprehend a thief or would-be murderer; he would be to blame if he did not. But this is all in the realm of outer action. It does not affect the soul. What defiles a man is anger, hatred, fear feelings which come out of his own heart. When you resist an assailant, you should do it without anger, just as you would kill a poisonous snake or ward off a mad dog without anger. A policeman quelling a riot is not harmed spiritually if he uses force discreetly and moderately as circumstances require. A man who discovers a burglar in the house need not feel shame if he resorts to violence and kicks him out or straps him to a chair until the police arrive. He will not develop a guilt-complex as a result, and have to go to a psychiatrist! What makes a man mentally sick is resentment and harping on grievances, real or imaginary, wishing he had been avenged, and thinking up all the cutting things he might have said but did not.

As a matter of fact, if you really and truly keep your heart free of hatred, fear and malice, it is amazing how little occasion you will have to use force in self-protection. Many of the dangers of worldly life will slip away like water off the back of the proverbial duck, and leave you unscathed. This the early Quakers discovered. Spiritual integrity has a wonderful protective power, even in this world. And, of course, in the spiritual world integrity is inviolable.

Perhaps at this moment you feel bad about something somebody did to you. There isn't one of us, I suppose, who doesn't have some drops of poison in his memory, corroding his inner thoughts and feelings. When we die and wake up on the other side, this is the kind of thing that will come to the surface. "There is nothing covered," said Jesus, "that shall not be revealed, and hid that shall not be known." Everything will be there, nothing lost. Poison that has been in your heart for thirty, forty or fifty years is still corroding you, though you may long since have ceased to be conscious of it. After death, there it will be! The annoying situation will return to you in vivid retrospect, and your reactions will be noted. If you still feel hurt or resentful, that will be a tug towards hell. Or perhaps it was something bad you yourself did, back in your youth or in more recent days. The circumstances will be re-enacted. Do you think, "That was mean of me I shouldn't have done it!" Or do you think, "That was pretty smart, I wish I'd gone a bit further with it!" Rejoicing in the memory of evil done will give you another tug towards hell. Too many tugs like this might be fatal. You just can't risk having them.

So let us be sure to repent and let the Lord clear away all the residue of bitter memories while we are still in this world where these matters can be resolved. Whenever we recall something in our past life which we recognize as being evil (whether we did it to someone else, or someone else did it to us) open it up and expose it, face it and examine it. Ask the Lord to remove the sting and heal the wound with the oil of his love. Ask for forgiveness for yourself, and give forgiveness freely in your mind to those who have trespassed against you. After that you will have no more trouble. The pressures and tensions will be released. Your heart will become healthy, so that you will be less capable of sin in the future, and less affected by the sins of others. No matter what the world does to you, no matter what the provocation or temptation, you will be quietly at peace. "A thousand shall fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand, but it shall not come near you. The Lord will be your strength and shield." Again: "Thus says the Lord who created you: When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon you. Fear not, for I am with you. I have called you by your name, you are mine!"

You have only yourself to blame if and when things go wrong. But when you are freed from evil and guilt, and begin to enjoy a deep and heavenly happiness, then all credit goes to the Lord! Would you have it otherwise?

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