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In the beginning was the word, the word was with God and the word was God. – John 1:1
In the spirit of these two quotes, let’s ponder for a few minutes on the Word of God.
Genuine religion and true faith always have their origin, the philosophers tell us, in the divine logos, the creative Word. As a mighty symbol, the Word stands for everything we know about the mystical and the spiritual. As revelation, the Word implies a revelatory Speaker. As the first emanation from that unknowable essence we know as God, the Word bestows life, light and knowledge on humanity. As the prophets—Moses, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Baha’u’llah—the Word comes to us in the form of a series of divine messengers, all with the same essential message. As the Word exists, so do we exist.
The Word signifies the generating impulse that creates all life. Baha’u’llah called it the “penetrative influence”—that heart-moving, mind-altering inspiration that can change the way we think and feel.
That’s why the Bible says “In the beginning was the word.”
That verse, the first one in the Gospel of St. John, stands symbolically, the Baha’i teachings say, for an “all-comprehending reality:”
We explain this subject as follows: By the “word” we mean that creation with its infinite forms is like unto letters and the individual members of humanity are likewise like unto letters. A letter individually has no meaning, no independent significance, but the station of Christ is the station of the word. That is why we say Christ is the “word” – a complete significance. The universal bestowal of divinity is manifest in Christ. It is obvious that the evolution of other souls is approximate, or only a part of the whole, but the perfections of the Christ are universal, or the whole. The reality of Christ is the collective center of all the independent virtues and infinite significances. – Abdu’l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 148.
The Baha’i teachings say that each of the prophets of God represent that “complete significance,” one of the Words of God. Of course several words make a sentence—a coherent, self-contained chain of meaning meant to educate and inform. The words in that sentence, like the progressive revelation of religious truth we’ve seen throughout human history, all come from the same Source:
…if we reflect deeply we will perceive that the great bestower and giver of life is God; the sun is the intermediary of His will and plan. Without the bounty of the sun therefore the world would be in darkness. All illumination of our planetary system proceeds or emanates from the solar center.
Likewise in the spiritual realm of intelligence and idealism there must be a center of illumination, and that center is the everlasting, ever-shining Sun, the Word of God. Its lights are the lights of reality which have shone upon humanity, illumining the realm of thought and morals, conferring the bounties of the divine world upon man. These lights are the cause of the education of souls and the source of the enlightenment of hearts, sending forth in effulgent radiance the message of the glad-tidings of the Kingdom of God. In brief, the moral and ethical world and the world of spiritual regeneration are dependent for their progressive being upon that heavenly center of illumination. It gives forth the light of religion and bestows the life of the spirit, imbues humanity with archetypal virtues and confers eternal splendors. This Sun of Reality, this center of effulgences is the prophet or Manifestation of God. Just as the phenomenal sun shines upon the material world producing life and growth, likewise the spiritual or prophetic Sun confers illumination upon the human world of thought and intelligence, and unless it rose upon the horizon of human existence the kingdom of man would become dark and extinguished. – Abdu’l-Baha, Foundations of World Unity, pp. 10-11.
So the Words of God, in this beautiful metaphor, become enlightening, warming and illuminating suns, meant to “imbue humanity with archetypal virtues.” Like the sun of our solar system, a star filled with life-creating energy and heat, the prophet of God and the words that prophet brings shed rays of moral, ethical and spiritual regeneration on human civilization. That’s how we advance and progress.
No force, the Baha’i teachings say, can prevent that sun of spiritual regeneration from shining:
Clouds may veil the sun, but, be they never so dense, his rays will penetrate! Nothing can prevent the radiance of the sun descending to warm and vivify the Divine Garden.
Nothing can prevent the fall of the rain from Heaven.
Next: The Force that Releases the World’s Animating Energies