Sunday service was over and one of the members was thanking the minister for his wonderful sermon as he was leaving the church building. His name was Charlie and he attended church service faithfully every Sunday. On this special day he did something different.
Instead of going directly to his car in the parking lot, Charlie decided to sit on the bench in the Church’s meditation garden. He started to ponder eternal life and felt smug that the church was a part of his life. But he began to wonder how he could be confident that he was properly being prepared for God’s heavenly kingdom.
Suddenly Charlie noticed that a beautiful woman, clothed in brilliant light, was sitting next to him. “Who are you?” asked the startled man.
“I am an angel of God,” she answered. “The Lord has allowed me to show you how you can determine if you are being properly prepared for eternal life in heaven. But in order to do that I have to take you to another church.”
“Another church? How far away is this other church?” questioned Charlie.
“It goes wherever you go and can always be found wherever you are,” said the angel with loving smile. “Stay seated. Let me take you there now.”
She grabbed Charlie’s hand and miraculously pulled his spirit into the depths of his heart and mind.
“Where am I?” asked Charlie.
“This world will show you the exact quality of your worship,” said the angel with a serious expression.
As Charlie looked around, everything in this world looked curiously recognizable and strangely intimate.
“You are scanning the field of the inner world of your memory,” explained the beautiful celestial being.
“How can this world represent my memory? It contains trees and buildings—I even see a church over there,” questioned Charlie.
“The human mind constructs a reality out of the ideas in its memory just as nature constructs a world from physical things. You are looking at the landscape of your inner spirit. That church over there is not physical; it is built up from the ideas, feelings and beliefs that you worship and find sanctuary in,” answered the angel.
Charlie moved closer towards this church and noticed that it was in need of some repair and maintenance. “This church needs attention,” he said.
“Yes,” responded the angel. “There are indeed aspects in your life that need more attention. Everything in this church represents the qualities of your heart and mind. This church is your true faith-system. The things that need repair represent the things in your heart and mind that need to be spiritually attended to—such as various false notions and negative feelings.
The angel then instructed Charlie on the topic of deeper spiritual knowledge. As Charlie listened to her instructions and agreed with the wisdom of her guidance, he noticed that his inner house of worship (and church) was not only getting repaired, it was becoming a beautiful cathedral. Charlie also noticed that the landscape around him was becoming more lush and beautiful around him. He was now convinced that these changes were taking place deep inside him.
“Look up there, towards heaven!” exclaimed the angel.
To Charlie’s surprise, the Holy City, The New Jerusalem was descending upon his spiritual landscape. Seeing Charlie’s expression of wonderment, the angel added, “You now know the secret of the Lord’s Second Coming. It is the return of the Lord and his deeper teachings into your heart and mind.”
Once again Charlie found himself sitting on the bench of his church’s meditation garden. He was alone. But he now realized that true religion encompassed worship in two distinct worlds. The quality of the church in one’s inner world determines the qualities of the actions and choices one makes in the outer, physical world.
Worshippers can both be in a church and have a church inside them!