As we turn our thoughts to Martin Luther King Day, I have been pondering what it means to take an understanding stand. I was inspired this week to find an article on the very subject in New Church Life, which encourages us to consider how taking
a stand for a spiritual way of thinking could transform our life.
"Standing" is predicated of the truth, faith, or thought, but especially of its manifestation. It relates to that part or state of the thought that is ready to be uttered in speech. Every person has
interior thought and exterior thought. Interior thought is what a person thinks within themselves when they are alone, or uninfluenced by the sphere of the world around them. Exterior thought is the thought accommodated to speech, ready to be shared.
a sincere person, the exterior thought and speech is in agreement with their interior thought; but with the hypocrite it is not in agreement, for they accommodate to speech and utter that which is the opposite of their interior thought, for the sake of the appearance and so of deception. Of such it is said that they stand praying to be seen “of men.”
The hypocrite thinks outwardly
to the world. They are indeed praying, for every thought is a prayer, an asking and seeking for something longed for by the love of the spirit; but they are asking, praying to the world. [The world is our god]. The world has that which we desire-and love above all things, and so we are in a perpetual prayer to the world for it. It is, in fact, it is the worship of the evil spirits. In the spiritual world this worship assumes even an outward form.
With the instruction that every person is prone to some such worship, [and is so worshipping] in fact before regeneration-the truth is given to set us free from this. Freedom the comes when we remove all considerations of self and the world, all thought of merit and reward from our thinking,
and turn it inwardly to heaven and the LORD, and then from the LORD outwardly into external thought, speech, and deed. “But you, when you pray, enter into your chamber, and having shut your door, pray to your Father, Who sees in secret; then your Father, Who sees in the hidden, will reward you openly. (Matthew 6: 6)
In the ancient temples, and
even in dwellings, was an inner or sacred chamber, devoted to Divine worship, called the shrine. Into this the king, priest, or master of the house retired for worship, shutting the door after them, breaking off communication with the outer world. A house is the mind, and by such a chamber is signified the interior of the mind, or thought, where all the real praying of a person’s life is taking place.
The interior thoughts are not accommodated to the outward world, but are the real thoughts of our life, or love, and in them are manifest what we desire above all things, what we worship as the end of our life. With the evil this thought is altogether evil-that is, of self love, and love of the world; with the regenerate this thought is of love to the LORD and love to the neighbor. This thought, which is not the thought of the body and
the world, but the thought of the spirit, is called [in the Church] meditation, and is that operation of the understanding by which a genuine faith, and a genuine worship in faith, is established. We see from this that the prayer commanded by the LORD in the text is, meditation; for the spiritual idea of prayer is no thing else. In meditation we are praying, for we are thinking, asking, seeking; it is the love reaching out, searching, beseeching for that which may give it a fullness of life all
the way to outermost things. (W.F. Pendleton)