Jesus has told us that the way to the kingdom is to “love as I have loved.” Somebody asked Mother Teresa about this imperative of Jesus’s one time saying, “Who am I to love?” Mother Teresa is reported to have said, “Whomever life puts in your path.” Pretty simple, right? Whomever life puts in your path you are to love. So I don’t get why the third principle says that we should accept and encourage to spiritual growth people in our congregations. Why not everyone in the whole wide world?
There are a couple of reasons why Unitarian Universalism is such a small religious denomination. First, people use their congregation like a social club and really don’t internalize their faith by incorporating it into practices leading to a richer interior spiritual life, and secondly, they don’t proselytize. It’s a shame really. Why would they limit themselves in their ethic of inclusivity and encouragement to spiritual growth only in their congregations and not to the world? Of course, we don’t need to wait for the leaders of the UUA or our congregation to spread the good word about the seven UU principles. We can do it ourselves person to person.
In Matthew 10 Jesus sends His apostles off two by two with nothing but their tunic and sandals and a walking stick. He tells them the people they encounter will support them and if they don’t move on. Here is what Jesus tells them in verses 5 – 20
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. has come near.’
How would that work if Unitarian Universalists who were to go out and preach the seven principles to the lost sheep of America? What if UUs were to take seriously the teaching of the seven principles? What would that effort look like? Because the seven principles are so counter cultural, if they are seriously applied to daily life, UUs would probably be arrested or at least mocked, ridiculed, shunned, avoided, called unpatriotic, and perhaps killed.
An attack on Unitarian Universalists occurred in July of 2008 at the Knoxville Unitarian Universalist Church in Tennessee when a gunman went to the church and killed two members and injured seven with a sawed-off shotgun before he was restrained by church members. The gunman said he wanted to kill liberals, African-Americans, homosexuals, and democrats, and he apparently thought the local Unitarian Universalist church was a good place to start. Many UUs were spooked after that, naturally, and became warier for a while when strangers visited their churches.
Jesus said that He was sending his apostles out like sheep among wolves. He said they should be shrewd as snakes and yet innocent as doves. For people who want to pursue or are pursuing a spiritual life, it is a high road not a low road. Jesus says many are called but few are chosen.
Many jokes are made about Unitarian Universalsim and Unitarian Universalists but taken seriously, living a Unitarian Universalist life is serious business. It is not for the faint of heart but for people with great faith, conviction, and love. Not just to attend a Unitarian Universalist church, but to live a Unitarian Universalist life takes dedication, commitment, and what the third principle calls “encouragement to spiritual growth.” As the UU preachers say when they end their sermons, “May it be so.”