Book One, Lesson Six

Book One, Lesson Six

Fellowship

"If we walk in the light,
as He is in the light,
we have fellowship one with another."
I John 1:7
Affirmation
How excellent is Thy name in the earth, О Lord! Would I have fellowship with Thee, I must show brotherly love to my fellow man. Though I come in humbleness and have aught against my brother, my prayer, my meditation, does not rise to Thee. Help Thou my efforts in my approach to Thee. 262-21

[Based on Edgar Cayce readings 262-21 through 262-23]
Introduction
In preparation for the task before us, let us become more conscious of the divine Spirit within, that we may go on. May we face the issues before us as those called for a purpose. May we rely on His promises, for while we are often weak and selfish- and the work is great-He will encourage our spirits, our hearts, with the presence of His Holy Spirit, so that there may be no idleness or delay in us.

A spark of the Divine that is forever seeking its source is within each of us. As we develop our spiritual forces, our soul forces within, we fan this spark into a flame which brings realization of our oneness and fellowship with the Creator of all things. There is a longing in our hearts for this fellowship-an urge driving us hither and thither in search of happiness and satisfaction, onward in search of God.

In the beginning, all knew a perfect fellowship with the Father, and in the knowledge and understanding of this fellowship all walked and talked with God. Again, this same fellowship is offered to all, a promise of the Father, through the Son. It is the reflection of this fellowship which expresses itself in our love for our fellow human beings, whom we innately feel to be one with us as part of the all-inclusive Whole. As we manifest love toward our neighbor, we increase or awaken our consciousness to a more complete fellowship with the Father, and we more fully realize that He moves within others as He moves within us. The family of humankind is but a shadow of fellowship with the Father. It is a true expression of the fellowship that exists in spirit.

Am I My Brother's Keeper?
Thousands of years ago there arose a question in humanity's heart, "Am I my brother's keeper?" It is still being asked. Until this is fully answered in our hearts in God's way and put into practice in our lives, we cannot hope to have the fellowship that is our rightful heritage. When we fail to reach "the mark of the high calling" that is realized in service, we endeavor to justify ourselves by making the old inquiry, only to receive the answer, The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground." No wonder we are miserable and cast down, and have fears that paralyze our efforts. Is it not because we know in our hearts that sin lies at our door?

"Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God." God gives only love to His children and pities them even as earthly parents pity their children. It is only when we sever relationship from divine Love by failing to suffer with our fellow humans, to bear their burdens, and to forgive them that we are out of harmony and sympathy with all that makes life worth living-fellowship with the Father. Have we not at some time realized this?

If we would be in a position to commune with the Spirit within and if we would seek to know His face, then let us be kind and gentle, compassionate and loving to others less fortunate. Manifesting love for our neighbor is manifesting love for God, in whom "we live and move and have our being."

We are enjoined not merely to ignore the shortcomings of our neighbors, but to love them in spite of their shortcomings and to show such faith in the power of the Spirit within them that they will catch our vision and in time come to realize their strength and seek to rise to higher planes of consciousness. We need not flatter them or lead them to overestimate their strength; rather we should help them to understand themselves and to know that they have a friend who will stand by in time of need-one who will extend a hand if they are about to fall into temptation. This answers the whole duty of humanity to humanity, of neighbor to neighbor, and of the individual to his or her Maker, for "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

The test is this: Are we willing to deal with others as we wish them to deal with us? May we ever be bound together in service to others through the fellowship which we have in Him.

Our Fellowship with God
If we wish to know how we stand with God, let us examine ourselves and see how we feel toward our neighbor. This companionship that we are seeking with God is found in the friendliness we show our neighbor. It is evident that our actions, our words, and our thoughts indicate too plainly our failure to seek fellowship with the Father. Let us examine ourselves that we may know what is buried in our hearts and minds that may be blinding us or binding us; and if we have anything against another, let us pray for forgiveness, knowing that His mercy is sufficient for all.

Seek God where He may be found, even in the heart of a neighbor. How well do we know God? Just as well as we seek to know and understand our fellow human beings, and just as well as we seek to magnify the divine consciousness in them. Do we seek far for the Divine in this direction? Do we not judge our neighbors from appearances rather than by righteous judgment? Do we not often overlook the motive which may have prompted their misconduct? Do we realize that deep down in the heart of our neighbors there lies buried a celestial fire that burns ever before the altar of our God? Then let us seek them out and, in spite of the rebuffs that we may receive, love them, not for what they appear to be, but for what they really are-not because they are human and need our sympathy, but because within them there is the Divine that merits our adoration.

What is more beautiful than fellowship! The Master sought it, that He might do the works of God. He did not withdraw from people, but mingled with them, sharing their sorrows, living their lives, and relieving their sufferings. We cannot hope to emulate His example, however, unless we abide in the Spirit that gives the strength. "I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing." The Master taught that love and service go hand in hand. What greater love could He have shown than to lay down His life in service for His fellow human beings; yet that is just how far the Master went to demonstrate His power over sin, death, and the grave, that those who seek life might know the way. May the Spirit help us to be willing to serve, and to see in our neighbor his or her higher self at all times, in all places, and under all circumstances.

If we would have fellowship, we must rely on His promises and keep His commandments, which are not grievous. The greatest commandment "that ye love one another," He called a new commandment, and it is still new to many of His followers.

We affirm that we want to know God, but do we really mean it? If we are really sincere, will we not be eager to sacrifice our desires, our opinions, and our whims, that the wonders found in the knowledge and understanding of the works of the Creator, our God and Father, may be revealed to us? May we not be willing to endure, that we may be counted worthy to share in the glory to be revealed to those who have given themselves wholly to His service? How easy the way when self is lost in Him! How easy to follow when we have been told to use what we have and more will be given.

Let us remember the Master's words to Simon: Teed my sheep." None of us can approach the Father with any degree of assurance when we feel and know in our hearts that we are out of harmony with ourselves or others. We are out of harmony with ourselves when we lack faith in ourselves, or when we minimize the power of the God within and forget that all power in heaven and earth is committed to our keeping-if we will attune ourselves to the Infinite Source of that power. We are out of harmony with others when we think of them as less divine than ourselves or as possessing less divine power, love, and mercy. Therefore, it is necessary to begin with ourselves to purge our hearts and minds and to become more conscious of the divine Spirit within others. This is necessary if we hope to have the fellowship with the Father that will cause us to realize our oneness with Him.

Prayer and meditation are the essential factors that will keep alive within us this perfect harmony. Are we seeking this fellowship? Would we have God draw nigh unto us? If so, then let us draw nigh unto God, approaching often the Throne of Grace, with mercy in our hearts.

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked," that is, the unregenerated heart, the heart that knows not the cleansing of the Spirit or the awakening of the presence of God. Let us search our hearts. "If our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things." He knows our joys and sorrows; He knows how we have tried and, therefore, in spite of our failures, shows love and mercy. If our hearts condemn us not, then we have faith in God, faith that He will keep His promises.

Let us be ever ready to forgive. This is the way that God deals with us. He has pardoned our sins and blotted out our transgressions. How much more should we be willing to forgive others! If the thoughts, deeds, or acts of others have caused us pain, let them not be magnified in our own mind or charged to their account. Let us who have pledged our loyalty bear the cross, since we have the promise of the crown. Let us help our fellow human beings by our patience and forbearance and show them that love is a living thing. What great love hath the Father bestowed upon us that we might show forth His glory among all people!

Let us strive to be kind, training ourselves to be considerate of those who do not seem to appreciate it. Yes, be kind when it is the hardest. It is worth the trial, not for the reward we may expect from others, but because we cannot allow anything to mar the fellowship we would have with the Father. One unkind word may not leave a lifelong pang in the heart of another, but it will place us so out of harmony with all that we count worthwhile that its effects will follow us perhaps through many years. Great kindness may be shown through little deeds. One who gives a word of comfort to the disheartened will have one's reward. Though this is a small service, it may help as nothing else would help. Let us not count any good act lost. No seed falls to the ground without the Father's knowledge. It was only a cup of water to the tired Master at the well that set the occasion which brought many out of the city seeking to know more about the water of life. May we lose no opportunity to bind up the brokenhearted, to pour oil on the troubled waters, or to heed the command, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God."

Let us remember that we shall give account for every idle thought; therefore, let us think on those things that make for love for others. As we develop step by step, here a little, there a little, we learn cooperation, we get better acquainted with ourselves, trust more fully in our Ideal, have our faith strengthened, gain virtue and understanding, and more and more become aware of our fellowship with the Father and our duty to others.

Fellowship with God, the Need of the World
The crying need among people of all ages has been that individuals must understand themselves, their relationship to their neighbor and to their Maker, and know that they are inseparable. These are one. It is impossible to separate God from His creations, for He manifests through them.

It is impossible to love God and hate our neighbors, whose souls are made in the image and likeness of God. Love and hate cannot live in the same heart. Too many of us count fellowship unimportant. Many of us are selfish and are neglecting to let those attributes that reflect fellowship have a place in our lives. If we are making this mistake, we know it, our neighbor knows it, and more than all, the Father knows it. The world is poorer because of the stumbling blocks we have put in the way of others. In this we are not only blocking our own development but also the very purposes for which we were created.

This fellowship with God, of which the world is so much in need, does not simply embrace kindness and gentleness toward friends but also includes love for enemies. This relationship to God will likewise make us see that to love our enemies does not mean simply to have the right attitude toward them, but rather to have in our hearts a yearning for them to know the Way. In their most terrible acts we can see a power for good misdirected. This attitude will help the world to better understand the obstacles and trials of others, including other nations, since peace on earth and good will toward all must first be experienced by the individual before it may be realized among nations.

With this knowledge of the need of fellowship, how can we hold a spirit of revenge, dislike, or judgment? Would we dare to bind others by our thoughts?

Love and brotherhood, reflections of fellowship with the Father, instilled into the hearts and lives of all, would bring this world into such a happy state that the millennium would be here in deed and in truth. It will be well for us to examine ourselves in order to know whether we as individuals are doing our full part.

Are we fulfilling the law of love toward rich and poor, high and few, saint and sinner, friend and foe?

There is no better place to practice love far others than in the home. Just watch its effects upon members of the family. If at home we cannot answer kindly, it will be better not to answer at all. It is far better for an angry thought to die unexpressed than for it to kill the good in the life of the speaker and retard the development of the one to whom it is addressed.

Duty of Those Who Have Fellowship with the Father
"Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." In fellowship there comes a duty to others. There are certain bonds to be kept. and certain laws to be understood and reverenced. "Who shall stand in his holy place? He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart"-such have fellowship with the Father. They delight in His laws and understand and cherish them.

Yet many of us may complain that the way is hard and that the obligations are many and heavy to bear. Are we not judged out of our own mouths? Should we not rather take Him at His word and know the truth of His assurance, "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light," and that He will place no burden upon us that we are not able to bear?

One who sought true fellowship told of the experience in these words: "1 saw a vision. In it I was able to discover what it meant to be selfish. I beheld myself in the school of life, using what little spiritual food I had for my own benefit. I was sitting on the side of a hill, eating. I soon realized that the ground upon which I was sitting was beginning to crumble. My food was also rapidly diminishing. A voice said, To him that hath not, it shall be taken away from him even that he seemeth to have.' Suddenly, I became aware of my destitute position. My food was gone, the earth was receding, and great billows of water were about to overtake me. I arose and began to climb upward, slowly, laboriously. I eagerly sought and accepted help from those I had formerly considered on lower spiritual planes than I. These words came to me: 'Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap,' and, 'All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them.'"

That which we think, we become. That which we are, we reflect. That which we reflect, others judge us to be. We may be mistaken in our estimation of ourselves and others may misjudge us, but God looks on the heart and knows all things. He knows our purposes and what we are capable of becoming. The Master said, 'Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church," though He knew that Peter in his weakness would deny Him. It is our duty to walk before others in such a manner that they may see the good within us and thus glorify the Father. It is our duty to be on our guard at all times, lest we lose courage when called into the "judgment hall" to give a reason for the faith that is in us. We must see that our fellowship is able to stand the test in every trial so that no one can point the finger of scorn at us and say, "Hypocrite, even your words condemn you!" It is our duty, yea, our privilege, To make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God," and now is being revealed.

Fellowship Brings a Peace That Passes Understanding
As we have dealt with our fellow human beings, we may expect to be dealt with. What cause have we for fear if we have obeyed the Voice? We have become as little children putting our trust in the Giver of all good and perfect gifts, and we know that He will reward us according to His goodness and mercy. "Great peace have they which love Thy law; and nothing shall offend them."

To whom do we look for this peace? Who hath brought the Pleiades into being, or set the bands of Orion, or the waters of the deep that are cast upon the land, or brings breath into the life of all His creatures and supplies the union with those Creative Forces that makes for the songs of the spheres? The Lord is His name. Under the shadow of His wing there is peace and no cause for fear. (See 262-23.)

Let nothing stand between us and the Father, but rather let us cast aside the things that have hindered in the past and allow no care to weigh us down as we go forth in His name day by day. Do we not know and are we not confident that "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose"? There may be things we do not understand now, but those things we can safely leave in the hands of the Father, knowing that He will reveal them in His own good time. Let no worry or condemnation enter our minds that might hinder the fellowship we have with the Father. The time is at hand. "He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still." It is not for us to judge, but to work, to serve, and to rely wholly on the promises: "Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.""Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you... Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

Let our meditation and prayer be expressed in the following words:

How excellent is Thy name in the earth, О Lord! Would I have fellowship with Thee, I must show brotherly love to my fellow man. Though I come in humbleness and have aught against my brother, my prayer, my meditation, does not rise to Thee. Help Thou my efforts in my approach to Thee. 262-21