Matthew 12:30 – “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad”.
There is no such thing as being neutral to God. If we are not actively accepting Him, then we are busy avoiding him. This is an intense truth we think we can get away from, and we can try for a time, but ultimately we cannot. The Lord said if you are not for me you are against me – there is no in between. Non-acknowledgement (or avoidance) is an action just as much as acknowledgement is an action. These actions are the minute binary of our life, each one gradually accumulating and leading toward heaven or hell. Only God can truly judge that state of this in others, but we can tell to a degree in our own self examination.
Being able to acknowledge that all good comes from God, in spite of appearances, is the acid test of spirituality. Self examination can help to humble and soften our heart so we can receive from God. Humility and innocence are essential to receive God. God can work in us through innocence because this allows the willingness to be led or to submit to good, as opposed to pride. Innocence blooms into maturity when it is combined with intelligence, and becomes wisdom. Innocence is the elixir that opens what is written in our souls from God! In Heaven and Hell Swedenborg expresses with great clarity and tenderness how innocence fosters the internal marriage of love and wisdom in life:
“In the Word by “little children” is meant those who are innocent. Good is good so far as it has innocence in it, for the reason that all good is from the Lord, and innocence is a willingness to be led by the Lord. I have also been told that truth can be conjoined to good, and good to truth only by means of innocence. Hence the conjunction of truth and good is called the heavenly marriage, and the heavenly marriage is heaven. Again, I have been told that love truly conjugial derives its existence from innocence, because it derives its existence from the conjunction of the good and truth in which are the two minds of husband and wife; for married partners are in mutual love, as their minds are. This is why in conjugial love there is a playfulness like that of childhood and innocence” (HH 281).
Innocence longs for the good of others and to serve others more than oneself, and this impulse is the foundation of true strength, peace and wisdom. Innocence also tempers the ever-present inclinations toward evil in us. Swedenborg writes:
“Humiliation is the essential of all adoration and of all worship, for without humiliation the Lord cannot be worshiped and adored, for the reason that the Divine of the Lord cannot flow into a proud heart, that is, into a heart full of the love of self, for such a heart is hard; and is called in the Word a “heart of stone.” But the Divine of the Lord can flow into a humble heart, because this is soft, and is called in the Word a “heart of flesh” (AC 9377).
Hand in hand with acknowledging the divinity of the Lord is the need to perceive and acknowledge that from our self we are full of inclinations toward evil, and without the Lord we are lost in evil. Most of us have unknown levels of intellectual, spiritual, or egotistic pride that blocks us from seeing this. While we are occupied with inclinations to evil, it is impossible to receive good. To temper and remove the evil inclinations we need to see them, expose them, and realize we need the Lord’s help, and then act on what we have realized so that the bond with good can take hold.
“The very essential of the church is the acknowledgment of the union of the Divine Itself in the Lord’s Human, and that this must be in each and all things of worship, thus also acknowledgment, for thought without acknowledgment and faith is not spiritual thought. The reason why this is an essential of the church, and consequently an essential of its worship, is that the salvation of the human race depends solely upon this union. Moreover the Lord came into the world for the sake of affecting this union. Therefore also in its inmost sense the whole Word treats of this, and the rituals of the church instituted among the sons of Israel represented it and signified it” (AC 10370).
Now it is wonderful to see how in the principle of union the Lord is entirely just and merciful, because it is up to each person to meet God half-way, to do the work of meeting the responsibilities that come with freedom and faith. We are masters of our own salvation no matter what our situation in life by the choices we make whether one knows of Christianity or not. Swedenborg writes: “It should be known that all who have not separated faith from love, when instructed in the other life, receive the heavenly idea of the Lord, that he is God of the universe. It is otherwise however with those who have separated faith from life”. So it is the pattern of union that determines salvation whether we are Christian or not. This makes us spiritual and able to learn of the Lord once in heaven. So even if a person in their life acted falsely or believed falsely because of the way we were brought up, but acted in good faith toward this falsity, then they can still be saved. Or if a person knows nothing of the Lord because of where they live, as long as they acknowledged God in some way and sought to live a life of good use, they are in the form of heaven. Thus the Lord is entirely just, because it is our own effort to effect union in our soul, however we may believe, that saves.