As a child, one of the things I could not understand, and would not accept from the Bible, was: “He who is not with me is against me.” It seemed totalitarian, cataclysmic, exhaustive. Nothing resonated after it, nothing existed outside of it, there was no allowance for shades of gray in a world where everything is imperfect the more you look in- or outside yourself.
How can a good God not forgive, I wondered? How can He not forgive those who stand on the sidelines, uncertainly seeking – as I have sought for years? How can God leave behind billions that do not know Him and go ahead with a handful of people, who, (the way I thought back then) were blindly listening, like a flock of sheep?
Was this belief all a hoax? Was it just human nature showing its fangs through its need for subjugation and obedience?
Years have passed… One of the things I learned on my way back to faith was to ask why, and why especially do we need God’s leadership?
Why do we need leaders? What’s so important? Why can’t we govern ourselves? What is the characteristic of the powerful in order to become leaders?
The answers I found were that people can only be strong or they can only be leaders, but in order to be strong leaders, then they have to have an action, get out of the gridlock, out of the organic mass, and define a function. As leadership is the art of fair and moral division of value, a strong leader stands out by creating value, and not by simply managing available resources.
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone claims to have faith, but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you tells him, “Go in peace; stay warm and well fed,” but does not provide for his physical needs, what good is that? So too, faith by itself, if it does not result in action, is dead. ”
In the beginning, God said: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” then, “out of the ground made the Lord God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil”, to conclude:” and God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good. “
Man is created in the Divine nature and gazes at it like into a mirror. Man has the freedom to choose his fate and take all possible paths, by the knowledge of good and evil. Man chooses to do good and love his neighbor as himself, to invent cures for diseases, or create artworks, to build ships, houses, churches or philharmonics, to plant and share, to fish and teach others how to do the same. Man can move forward, creating the vector of good through his actions.
Or he may bow down, or bend his knees in praying for God to build him hospitals, put money in his pocket, give him better leaders, support his children through college, save his loved ones from disease… and yet not lift one finger to improve his life. Like the Pharisee, man can complain and ask God for everything under the Heavens, he would promise God everything, yet his deeds remain empty.
A very strange, difficult to understand at first, yet significant symbolism appears in the Gospels through the words of those who are among the first to recognize Jesus – the demons.
Rare are the people who are among the first to recognize Him. But only those “possessed” by fallen spirits from Heaven, who knew Him before the fall, recognize Him now. And they are afraid, because they know that God is good, it is action for good, for love, comfort, forgiveness, for the betterment of the lives of all present.
Demons want to block, to destroy, to scatter, to oppose the good. Metaphorically they are where God is not, they are in our lack of action.
And now I understand Jesus’ judgment, which until now seemed Solomonic to me: “He who is not with Me is against Me.” The one who does not do good, the one who remains still loses his soul by letting evil seep through every crack into their life, like rust, until inaction completely locks all gears.
And the completion of the verse now helps me find its meaning “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he that gathers not with me scatters abroad.”
Let us not waste ourselves, but do good wherever we are. This is our reward: that we did not remain still, that we had the knowledge of good and evil, and we chose to do good.