How do you soar in the heavens?
It is hard to believe it now but at the dawn of the 20th century human flight was about as fantastic and impractical as Christ’s Return in a cloud to inaugurate His Kingdom on earth. Today people soar in planes over a planet where God’s Kingdom inexorably advances for the collective benefit of the entire human race. These extraordinary developments derive from humanity’s coming of age and slowly sometimes unconsciously learning how to accord to the will of God.
At the eve of the 20th century Otto Lilienthal – the father of flight – had made several glider hops off the hills of Berlin in Germany. This ended on August 9, 1896 when his contraption stalled causing him to fall and perish. The Wright brothers attempted to continue his work to no avail. They demonstrated through trial and error the truth of the parable of the wineskins. Antiquated perspectives and models are the detriment not the crucible of progress.
Neither do people pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst; the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved. – Matthew 9:16-18.
The Wrights realized that success required a new conception. In order to make a considered break with the past; the Wright brothers created the world’s first wind tunnel. It allowed them to systematically test their hypotheses. They used a robust scientific process to prove their theories. Over three months they tested over 200 different air foils to determine precisely which curvature generated the greatest lift. The two brothers solved the problems of flight through perspicacity and assiduous effort, which made them the quintessential example of principled scientific discovery.
The Wrights’ discoveries continue to influence wing design today. In a similar way, God’s Manifestations are the ideal guides for an ever advancing civilization. As human understanding evolves God reveals more of His eternal purpose for humanity. Consider this dynamic as we reflect on Christ’s parable of the Kingdom of God in the light of Baha’u’llah’s Revelation.
The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.
…Then he said to his servants, ‘The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. So go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.’ So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, the bad as well as the good, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. But when the King came in to see the
guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. He asked, ‘How did you get in here without wedding clothes, friend?’ The man was speechless. Then the King told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are invited, but few are chosen. – Matthew 22:2-14.
Let’s interpret this beautiful parable in the light of the Baha’í Writings. God is represented by the King; His son is the Holy Spirit. This is the intermediary between God and His servants and the receptive soul. The bride is the human heart. The one thing in God’s creation that He has set aside for Himself. The servants are the Manifestations of God who summon humanity to its Creator’s purpose. Through the all-pervasive love of the Holy Spirit the pure heart conceives God’s child – faith. It is through the birth of this new life in the soul that humans attain the capacity to ascend to heaven:
Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the Kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 18:3.
Baha’u’llah’s vivid analogy of flight below illustrates that once conceived the faith-filled soul wears Christ’s “wedding garments” by preferring God’s will over its own selfish desires.
Ye are even as the bird which soareth, with the full force of its mighty wings and with complete and joyous confidence, through the immensity of the heavens, until, impelled to satisfy its hunger, it turneth longingly to the water and clay of the earth below it, and, having been entrapped in the mesh of its desire, findeth itself impotent to resume its flight to the realms whence it came. – Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 327.
Human flight is a wonderful material manifestation of our maturity and burgeoning spiritual capacity to perceive the existence of and reflect the characteristics and attributes of God’s Kingdom “on earth as it is in heaven.”
The Revelation of Baha’u’llah, whose supreme mission is none other but the achievement of this organic and spiritual unity of the whole body of nations, should, if we be faithful to its implications, be regarded as signalizing through its advent the coming of age of the entire human race. — Shoghi Effendi, The World Order of Baha’u’llah, p 163