03.23.2022

"Perfect Love"

Wednesday, March 23, 2022
Featuring: Rev. Richard Rogers
Week #11 of the Ongoing Series, "A Year of Love"

Click HERE to download this transcript.

Click HERE to view Rev. Rogers' guided meditation during the service.

Alright, you ready? [Congregant: "Yup!"] We got one guy ... [Congregation laughs] We're up to two!

Alright, so tonight I want to start by asking you: What are your top three fears? You know what they are? Are you conscious of what you're afraid of?

See, one of the things that happens in our spiritual life is that we're becoming more conscious, more awake, more aware. And when we turn on in the inner light -- when we turn on the light of our soul; when we allow God to shine bright within us -- not only do we see all the little daisies and unicorns and rainbows, but we also get to see the parts of us that have not yet healed. And so, for most of us, when we see the parts of us that have not yet healed, we want to push those back into the darkness, and just focus on all the happy stuff, right? Where are those daisies? We want more daisies! And a couple of unicorns. And, you know, some sunshine! We just want all the happy stuff!

But what I want you to see tonight -- and that's where we're going tonight -- is: as we awaken -- as the light of God begins to fill our soul in a greater and greater way -- we become more conscious. We become more awake. And as we do so, I believe that there's another way that we can deal with our fears. There's another way that we can deal with the wounds of the past than the way that most people have dealt with their pain.

See, the way that most people deal with their fears is really two-fold. We try to stay as unconscious as possible for as long as possible and hope that the fears go away. How many of you can think of a time in your life where that was your lead strategy? "I just don't want to know how scared I am ... and if I don't know how scared I am, I won't act scared. I'm just going to stay as unconscious as possible and hope they don't bite me." Right? We've done that! We've all done it!

But the other way is to become conscious of our fears and create a new system to deal with them. And so, as we awaken, we begin to notice that, for many of us, we have several -- maybe many -- fears that live just below the level of consciousness. That hang out in the shallow waters. And when we go to sleep at night, or when we have too much free time, or when we're quiet for too long, what begins to happen is: those fears begin to come out of the water, and we begin to notice them. And it so freaks us out that we run and turn the TV on or we go to a movie or we participate in whatever our addiction of choice is so that we don't have to feel them any more. 

And I want you to begin to have a higher tolerance for your own fear. And to deal with them in a way that's actually transformative instead of suppressive.

So do you know what the top 10 fears are that people deal with? There was a recent study that showed the top 10 fears or phobios. The first one is social phobia, and this is the most common. It is the fear -- the anxiety disorder that includes excessive self-consciousness in social situations. Some people have a great fear that being judged about what they wear, what they eat, how they act. And their fear is so great that they don't want to be out in public. And they have loved the last two years during the pandemic. [Congregation laughs] Right? We get to wear a mask, right? We don't have to leave the house. Uber will deliver everything. So this has been fabulous! But what happens is: your life just gets so small, because you're afraid that people are judging you.

The other one is fear of open spaces. And it's kind of the fear that, in that much space, you're going to get lost. So it's almost impossible to lead a normal life. There's the fear of heights; the fear of flying; the fear of enclosed spaces; the fear of insects; fear of snakes; fear of dogs; fear of storms. And the tenth one is the fear of needles. Now that's not really a fear; that's just being intelligent, right? [Congregation laughs] Right? [Laughs]

I mean, can I get a raise of hands? How many think that's just an intelligent thing to be about? If they're going to stick you, you just look the other way! You don't actually watch them suck it out of you, right?

So other than that one ... Like, in my work as a minister, I come across different fears than that. Right? There's the fear of dying. And I'm always kind of surprised how many people have the fear of dying. That they're afraid that maybe they haven't been as good as they wanted to be, or that they're going to be judged. And that they live in this fear.

There's fear of people dying alone. Or the fear of outliving their money. And those are the fears that I see far more often than some of these fears that are much more restricting, that are much more debilitating. They have such an impact on people's lives.

And tonight, what if there was another way you could deal with your fears? What if you could actually manage your fears in a way that created transformation? That allowed you to overcome the issues, right? 

Let's shoot that first slide up on the screen if you would for me, please? Do we have it?

So here's the two ways to deal with fear; fear has two meanings. Forget Everything And Run. Right? And that, by far, is the most well used one!

Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rise. And I want you to see that those are really the two camps, right? You're either going to try to stay as unconscious as possible, and hope that your fears don't eat you. Or you're going to move toward your fears and allow them to transform you.

Did you ever hear the idea ... And I don't really know if it's true. But the idea of how buffalos deal with storms? Now, this may be kind of an obscure fact ... [Congregation laughs] But God know, those are the kind I like best, right? Never play Trivial Pursuit with me, because when it comes to useless knowledge, I've got a ton of it, right? [Congregation laughs]

But in the presence of a storm, buffalos run toward the storm. And you think, "Why would they do that?" Well, if you run toward the storm, then you actually move through the storm quicker than if you're an antelope or a cow that runs away from the storm. Right? If you run away from the storm, you spend most of your time actually running with the storm. Right? And so, when you're in the storm, the best idea is not to join it and run with it, but it's actually to turn around and run toward the opposite direction. To run against the storm. Because if you run into the storm, the time that you spend in the storm is less.

Will you say with me, "I want to be a buffalo"? [Congregation laughs]

Together: [with congregation] "I want to be a buffalo!" 

One more time: [with congregation] "I want to be a buffalo!"

Because if you're going to be a cow or a buffalo, I pick a buffalo. Right? Just affirming over and over again, "I am a cow." [Congregation laughs] It just ... It doesn't have the same lift, right? But if you say, "I'm a buffalo!" then people still might treat you weird, but it's at least it makes a spiritual statement.

So let's say it again: "I am a buffalo!"

Together: [with congregation] "I am a buffalo!"

And, yes; you are! Right? We have the capacity, as spiritual beings, to move toward the storm. To move toward our fears; to move toward the things that scare us. And if we will do that -- if we will move into them -- it actually sets us free.

Let's go to the next ... There's a poem. How many of you know or have heard of Terry Cole-Whittaker. Anybody? Terry Cole-Whittaker, religious science minister in a very large ministry in San Diego a hundred years ago. And ... Maybe not a hundred. Forty years ago. Yeah, 40 years ago. Wow! Forty years ago. And I want to share a poem that she wrote about fear. And if you want to read along with me, you can.

"Life is about handling
Higher levels of fear."

Now I want you to hear that. Life is handling higher levels of fear. It's not about eliminating fear from your life. How many of you have had a belief that, if you progress far enough spiritually, there was going to be a time when you actually got beyond fear? Right?

Even Jesus said, "If this cup can pass from my hands, Thy will be done." So even Jesus had a level of fear. So the idea is not to eliminate fear from your life. You will never get there! But it is to learn how to manage it in a way that is transformative and moves you forward. That moves you into the experience and through it to a greater experience of God. So ...

"Life is about handling
Higher levels of fear.
So, if you're willing
To be scared and
Go where your fear
is telling you,
Then
You will go right through that,
Because the very thing you're fearing
Now, is your next door, is the
Door to enlightenment for you
And if you stay away from it
And not handle it, then what you're doing
is staying on the other side of paradise
You stay outside the walls of
The Kingdom
Because you're afraid to go through.
The fear is only a thing of the mind.
The fear is that I'm going to have to
Give up self-hatred."

What I want you to see tonight is: I want you to see that your fears are your greatest teachers, your greatest blessings. And through the power of love, you can manage your fears in a very different way than most people are.

See, the series that I've been doing for week after week after week ... And it's like, "Richard, get off love! There's got to be something else you want to talk about!" Right? [Congregation laughs] And the reason that it's so important to me is: I want you to be conscious of your ability to love. 

See, most people don't open their heart consciously. Most people only open their heart as an unconscious reaction to something. They see a good, cute Budweiser commercial with the puppy and the Clydesdale, right? And their heart just goes BING! Right? But then they get into a conflict with somebody, and there's a problem, or they get scared, and their heart closes.

See, I want you to be consciously in charge of your ability to open your heart and let love flow. Because what we've focused on over and over again is that, really, all forms of love are of God. And your only job -- to love and to love in a greater way -- is just to open your heart and let the infinite love of God flow through you. But you have to be conscious enough to actually decide to open your heart.

And, for many of us, we were taught that it's crazy to open your heart in the presence of fear. So in the presence of fear -- as we've been talking about for the last couple of years -- there's only two things your heart and your soul does. Your soul either expands or it contracts. In the presence of fear, how many of you are consciously choosing to expand and open your heart? 

See, for most of us, in the presence of fear, we unconsciously contract and we get scared, so we close our hearts. So we really don't know if love is greater than fear, because we've never done it! We've literally never trusted love enough to be scared, to be in the presence of our fears, and not contract. But actually expand and open our hearts. And to allow the infinite love of God to flow through us to see what happens.

Because I will guarantee: if you can love your fears, your fears will change. They will transform. They will either become smaller, or they will go away. But in the presence of your fears --when you contract and close your heart -- over and over and over again, you're going to get another opportunity for that fear to show up again.

Because the universe is trying to teach you that you are greater than your fears. And every fear that comes into your life is holy ground. It is your soul's opportunity to be bigger than that moment. To be bigger than that experience.

And for most of us, we fail badly. We get scared. We contract. We turn into ourselves. We hide and hope that it doesn't eat us. And the reality is: that's not who you're supposed to be. You're supposed to be greater than every fear! And it's not saying that the fears are going to be taken away. But you can't really know your greatness the way we're confronting -- or not confronting -- our fears. Only when you can stand in the presence of your fears, and keep your heart open and love flowing, can you master every fear.

And what if you spend your whole life just cowering to one fear after another? And you never really learn the power of love in your heart and in your soul? We miss moments. We miss possibilities. And everything that is scaring you right now was designed to scare you, but not to kill you. Not to eat you! I just want you to open your heart so that you can love. And, as you love through it, everything is transformed Everything is transformed!

Creig Crippen said this:

"You are being presented with a choice: evolve or remain. If you choose to remain unchanged, you will be presented with the same challenges, the same routine, the same storms, the same situations, until you learn from them, until you love yourself enough to say 'no more,' until you choose change. If you choose to evolve, you will connect with the strength within you, you will explore what lies outside the comfort zone, you will awaken to love, you will become, you will be. You will have everything you need. Choose to evolve. Choose love."

A Course in Miracles says, "All healing is essentially a release from fear."

One of the things that we focused on is that you can't heal what you can't see. And I want to challenge you tonight. That, for all those fears that are living right underneath the surface of your consciousness, of your awareness, I want you to actually allow the light of God to be turned on within your soul.

I did a class last month. One of the exercises we did was inviting people just to turn the light on within their soul, and just to begin to witness what they see within themselves. And it's really ... it was amazing, because people saw themselves in new lights and new ways. And they also saw the parts of them that still needed to be healed. But they could also begin to recognize their own greatness.

For so many of us, we are playing the dimmer switch on our own soul. Because we don't want it to be too bright. Because we're afraid if it's to bright, we'll see that which we haven't healed yet, and it'll be so overwhelming that we'll just turn everything down and turn the darkness back on.

And what if tonight you actually allowed the light of your soul to be as bright as possible, and to begin to see those things that have so frightened you? But instead of running from them, just open your heart. Just choose to expand. And see, in the presence of your fears, can you keep your heart wide open?

1 John 4:18 we read: "There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears has not yet been perfected in love."

See, I want you perfected in love! I want you to know, "Yes! it's okay for me to be afraid." Yeah! And, as I'm doing good works, and as I'm moving heaven and earth, as I'm claiming the life that God has for me, when I'm really living my best life, there are going to be times when I'm afraid.

But I don't allow the fear any more to cause me to shrink into the moment. I actually expand into the moment, open my heart, and actually send love in the direction of my fears. I am willing to love my fears in such a powerful way that my fears actually transform right in front of my eyes. That until you've done it, you will not believe that it works.

I mean, imagine that you've lived your whole life running from your fears. And the first time that you say, "No more! I'm going to stop! I'm going to sit down; I'm going to have a moment of prayer here and open my heart. I'm going to see what I'm afraid of. I'm going to see what's been chasing me my whole life." And then, at that moment, we're going to just actually just turn the light on. Turn love on, and watch it transform.

I remember a time when I was probably six, maybe seven. I was young. And I was looking in the closet and I was literally convinced there was a monster. Do you ever remember an experience like that as a kid? Where I wasn't making it up; there was a monster! And I was so afraid that I was too afraid to get out of bed, because I didn't want to go past the closet to get to the door. Right?

So I remember sitting there and laying in bed with the covers pulled up as high as I could get them. And I remember just screaming as loud as I could scream. And I just screamed and screamed and screamed. And my mom first ran in, flipped on the light. And the moment she turned on the light, guess what? They were just clothes. [Congregation laughs] Right? They were just clothes! 

And maybe I made the mistake of hanging something up wrong. Right? Or maybe I just hung it up for the first time ever. Right? And it scared me so! [Laughs] Right? And it was just clothes! And the moment that I saw that it was just clothes, imagine what happened to my fear! It was just gone! It just dissipated; it evaporated. It was completely gone!

When you can look in your fears and not shrink to them, it actually expands – because you can be 100 times greater than your fears -- and open your heart and love the places where you have been the most afraid, you will watch your fears transform. You will! And it's just time. We have so many things that we're running from in our world today. There's so many things that are scaring us. And I want you to manage that differently.

Jesus said, "In the world there's tribulations, but be of good cheer; for I have overcome the world." So he didn't say there wasn't stuff happening; he just said, "I overcame it." I promise you, over and over again, that there's going to be "stuff" in your life: stuff for you to deal with; stuff for you to heal; stuff for you to rise above; stuff for you to overcome. There's going to be stuff! But I want you to know that love in you is greater! That there's no limit to how much you can love. There's no limit to how much you can transform in your life.

So you ready for your homework?

I want you to pick one fear this week. Just one fear. And I want you to take it into prayer. And I want you to see if, in the presence of that fear, can you actually expand? Could you be 10 times bigger than that fear? Could you allow your soul to be 100 times bigger than that fear? And then could you open your heart and send love directly in the direction of that fear? No matter what that fear is! No matter how scary it is; no matter how much it's controlled your life; no matter how much it's diminished you; no matter how much it's impacted your finances or your relationship; no matter how much it's impacted your health.

No matter what that fear -- no matter what the cost you paid for that fear -- can you imagine actually expanding your soul, opening your heart, and just sending love to that fear? And watch as that fear transforms. Because it's not real! It feels real; we believe it's real. But only God is real. Only God is the one presence and one power at work in your life.

"I am greater than my fears."

Will you say that with me? [With congregation]: "I am greater than my fears."

"Love is greater than my fears."

Together: [with congregation] "Love is greater than my fears."

Will you pray with me?

And I invite you to open your mind, your heart, your soul to the activity of God. That there is only one presence and one power: God the good. And today we just allow love to be the power that transforms us. Come on, fears! I know you're there. I know you're swimming right underneath the surface. So instead of chasing me in my dreams or in my quiet time, I'm going to open a space right here, right now, to be bigger than you've ever been. To love in a way that's greater than I've ever known before. That my fears will no longer make me smaller. They will no longer make me run away and hide. My fears are going to open to me to the full greatness of who I am.

Come on, fears! Take your best shot! And I'm going to love. I'm going to stand right here and love. Because I believe in the power of love. I believe that love is always greater. And I believe that love always wins. In the name and through the power of the Living Christ, we give thanks. And so it is. Amen.

you to open your mind, your heart, your soul to the activity of God. That there is only one presence, only one power, and that power is within you. You are one with that power. You are one with the One. And, as we awaken to the full power of God within us, we begin to attract greater and greater and greater levels of good. That there's no limit to your power to attract God's good to your life. You're irresistible! You are irresistible to God! You are irresistible to life! You are divinely irresistible! And tonight, you're going to set yourself free to be about the spiritual work that you've come into the world to do, and to be blessed in ways that just were unimaginable. And God's got you; God's with you. And tonight you can set your soul free. In the name and through the power of the Living Christ, we give thanks. And so it is. Amen.

 

Copyright 2022 Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center/Rev. Richard Rogers

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Unity of Phoenix Spiritual Center

1500 E Greenway Pkwy
Phoenix, AZ 85022
Phone: (602) 978-3200

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