I became a licensed Unity teacher (LUT) in 2003. In the four years prior to that, there was a lot of change in the LUT and ministerial programs. The LUT program did not offer classes with the depth on Bible as they do today. When Shirley Kennedy became the LUT coordinator, she along with staff from both Unity Institute and Unity Worldwide Ministries put together a program that better fit the needs of our LUTs in the field.
A year ago, the daughter of a close friend ask if I would be willing to teach classes so that she could finish the Spiritual Education & Enrichment (SEE) portion of the credentialing program before it goes through changes in 2018. I gladly accepted—then she told me that she and several others from her ministry needed the Bible classes. For a moment my heart dropped and I started to say no. Then I remembered a quote from Richard Bach’s book Illusions: The Adventures of the Reluctant Messiah: “We teach best what we most need to learn.” I have learned to listen to that still small voice, so I went to the Unity Institute website and downloaded the syllabus for Overview of the Hebrew Scriptures. The class was based on the book, Reading the Bible Again for the First Time by Marcus Borg.
As I started reading the book, I realize that I did not know much at all about the Hebrew Scriptures. I became hungry to learn more. So I began to go deep with the book and with the class. I spent some of my daily meditations with the ideas Borg shared in his book. It really answered the question, “Why is studying the Old Testament important, when Unity is more based on Jesus and his teachings in the New Testament anyway?” The first thing he explained was why he referred to the Old Testament as the Hebrew Scriptures. Our minds are conditioned that, when we hear the word “old,” we have a tendency to think that it has little or no value. I found that I was of that mindset myself.
In this class and the ones that followed, I really did go deeper with my understanding of the culture that Jesus was teaching from and how that culture shaped religions today. When we don’t know where we came from, it is hard to know where we need to go. The main underlying theme for the Hebrew Scriptures was: God’s promise, the struggle and challenges to receive that promise, and, finally, God’s fulfillment of that promise. I discovered this is an ageless theme and it is just as relevant today as it was in the days of Moses. So in breaking down this theme, I discovered a new way to look at my life.
Promise, Struggle, Fulfillment
Let’s start with God’s promise. This was the promise that if the Israelites followed the Ten Commandments (also known as the Covenant) that God would deliver them to a land of milk and honey—the Promised Land. Today that promise is just as real as it was then, only it is a mental state of consciousness instead of a worldly place on a map. Jesus told us it was God’s good pleasure to give us the kingdom and that the kingdom is here and now.
But as humans with free will and free thinking, it is not easy to give in to the conditions of the Promise. So here comes the struggle/challenge phase of the theme. We often think that the Ten Commandments don’t apply to us today. We turn them and twist them to fit our thinking, moving away from the simple request that God made of the Israelites and us today. This gave me the opportunity to go deep into my own beliefs and actions and how I have struggled with the challenges that I have created in my life.
It is not always easy to look into that mirror that reflects your thoughts, words and deeds. I spent time in self-reflection and prayer trying to understand where my resistance was coming from. It finally dawned on me that I was often operation from my ego which thought it always had to be right. When I functioned more from the Christ within, my life became easier and easier. Things began to fall into place without struggle.
This brings us to the fulfillment of God promise. My favorite affirmation has always been, “Let go and let God.” But I was always forgetting the “let go” part. God doesn’t do to us but through us. In this day and age things are moving faster and faster. Sometimes we forget to get quiet, listen, and to know God’s promise of fulfillment. Things go more smoothly if I just let go and let God do the heavy work.
Part of my job here at Unity Worldwide Ministries central office is to help determine quarterly themes for Unity Leaders Journal articles and then find writers from the field to share with you how they accomplished the theme in their lives. The theme for this quarter is Spiritual Renewal: Going Deep. Little did I realize that in preparing to teach a class that I would be the one that would learn so much and go so deep into my own spiritual path and renewal. I encourage you as a licensed teacher or minister teaching classes to put yourself in the place of the learner. Ask the questions as if you have never had the class yourself. I can tell you from my personal experience it was quite a spiritual renewal for me.