I read frequent communications from three very different clergymen. One is an eloquent Catholic monk who has devoted his life to elevating whatever he finds to be of value in Catholicism while he happily ignores the rest. The second is a pastor who trumpets all the mainline Protestant ideas and especially insists that Jesus died for our sins. The third is a fire-and-brimstone preacher whose entire goal is to get every one of us to claim Jesus as our savior because God’s judgment is upon us and if we are not “saved” we will go straight to hell. Reading them together is an education! It is clear that all three are devoted to Jesus, and it just never has occurred to them to wonder whether their own particular Christian denomination might not be the one that the Lord prefers. Or might it even be possible that the genuine Christ, Who came to us as God on earth, actually wants something else altogether?
These three clergymen and so many others remain still oblivious to the fact that God is about to rock our world. Based upon abundant evidence, we know at last that God is real, God is Consciousness and all that exists, and our minds are part of that infinite eternal Mind which continuously manifests this universe. So for the first time in human history we can begin to understand the true nature of God. We even can start to figure out what it is that God actually wants! For awhile longer, the advent of God on earth will mean little to the billions of people who are still stuck in the world’s religions. But for you and me it presents some very exciting possibilities!
As you may know, afterlife researchers and others have lately been made aware of an ongoing effort being made by those at the highest levels of reality who are working through many people on earth to raise the consciousness vibration of this planet away from fear and negativity and toward ever more perfect love. This is an urgent matter! We are told that unless this effort succeeds, within just a couple of centuries our planet will be a desolate wasteland. So getting it right will be important! And Who better to tell us what we should be doing to powerfully transform the world and avoid its imminent destruction than the genuine God Whose Mind continuously manifests this universe?
Let me say here plainly that for various reasons I consider it more likely than not that almost everything that Christians believe about Jesus is true. He is the promised Jewish Messiah, born of a virgin as God on earth and eventually crucified, entirely dead, risen from the dead three days later, and bodily assumed into heaven. All quite possibly – even probably – true. But we also can conclusively demonstrate that Jesus didn’t die for our sins because God already forgives us all. In addition, now we know that everyone who practiced any religion on earth – or even practiced no religion – goes to the very same religion-free afterlife. But these Christian errors cannot in the least diminish the fact that the life of Jesus is now demonstrated to be a miraculous gift from God! And God doesn’t give us miraculous gifts just to show off. So we know that the gift that is the life of Jesus must have had an important purpose. And since we know now that purpose was definitely not the religion that was later built around Him, don’t you agree that it is well past time for us to give the Lord another chance to tell us in His own words why He came?
We began to set the scene last week. You and I are observant Jews who have discovered an itinerant Teacher so compelling that we have lately begun to follow Him around and listen to Him. We have no idea what the next hour will bring, so for certain we know nothing about Jesus’s later charge that we should spread His teachings, nor His crucifixion, Paul’s letters, Christianity, nor anything else that the future might hold for this Teacher. We just enjoy listening to Him now. So, what do you and I hear Him saying?
I will give you here five primary things that I can hear the Lord telling us, but you might be hearing other things, too. I urge you to open the Gospel words that we now can confirm are genuine, and read and think and draw your own conclusions. But for now, the sun is hot on our heads. From nearby comes an unforgettable Voice…
Jesus Came to Abolish Religions
Religions are a fear-based holdover from the millennia when people served multiple Gods. Now that our people serve one God, Jesus has come to take us past the need for religions altogether. He begins by throwing away the entire Old Testament – what the Jews of His day call The Law and The Prophets – and replacing every religious law with God’s law of perfect love. When asked what is the greatest commandment, He says, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets” (MT 22:37-40). He assures us that His outright abolition of religious laws is part of God’s plan when He says, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill” (MT 5:17).
Jesus speaks out against religious traditions, and He especially reviles clergymen. He says, “Why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?… You hypocrites! Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you: ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their hearts are far away from me. But in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men’” (MT 15:3-9). And, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in” (MT 23:13). Wow! is what you and I are thinking, sitting here and listening at the Lord’s feet. Is the Teacher telling us that God is abandoning His Chosen People?
Jesus Came to Teach Us How to Relate to God On Our Own
Actually, Jesus is telling us that we have grown beyond our need for religions, and God would prefer that we begin with Him a one-on-one relationship. He says, “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (MT 6:1-6). And we can see that Jesus is trying to avoid being seen as a religious figure. For Him, it is His teachings that matter! He says, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” (LK 6:46). “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven will enter” (MT 7:21). You and I, at the Teacher’s feet, glance at one another. We cannot help but conclude that, amazingly, God no longer wants us to practice the religion of our fathers, but instead God wants us to begin to develop a personal relationship with Him.
Jesus Came to Teach Us to be Seekers
The Lord knows that humanity will continue to advance in understanding past this sunny afternoon by the Sea of Galilee, so He wants us to keep seeking more knowledge as we become better able to comprehend it. He says, “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened” (MT 7:7-8). He also says, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (JN 8:31-32). Again we share a glance. We think we understand this, too. We should be looking for more truths to come, but what the Teacher is telling us now is a basic set of truths that will not change.
Jesus Came to Teach us How to Grow Spiritually
The teachings of Jesus on forgiveness and love are the easiest and most effective method for achieving rapid spiritual growth that ever has been given to humankind. And clearly Jesus knows that. He keeps telling us how those teachings will transform us when He says things like, “But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also. If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also. Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two” (MT 5:39-41). And, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (LK 6:35-36). Sitting at His feet and looking up at Jesus, you and I realize what He is saying. He is telling us that following His teachings on forgiveness and love is going to help us become more like Himself.
Jesus Came to Bring the Kingdom of God on Earth
Right at the start of the Lord’s ministry, “after John (the Baptist) had been taken into custody, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel’” (MK 1:14-15). And He said, “How shall we picture the kingdom of God, or by what parable shall we present it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the soil, though it is smaller than all the seeds that are upon the soil, yet when it is sown, it grows up and becomes larger than all the garden plants and forms large branches; so that the birds of the air can nest under its shade” (MK 4:30-32). Jesus talks incessantly about the kingdom of God and His planned role in bringing about the advent of the kingdom of God on earth. For example, He once tells His listeners, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose” (LK 4:43). He expects the kingdom of God to dawn on earth amazingly soon! He says, “There are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God” (LK 9:27). Of course, sitting there at the feet of Jesus, you and I as first-century folk have no clue what Jesus is talking about now, nor can we see how it fits with the rest of what we have been hearing Him say. But after two thousand years it does make sense.
Jesus is telling us that He came to earth to help the world’s first true monotheists move on from religions altogether and establish individual relationships with God that would better enable them to grow spiritually. And He adds that their rapid spiritual growth, had it happened as it had been planned to happen, would fairly soon have brought the dawning of the kingdom of God on earth. His mission was hijacked soon after His death by religion-builders steeped in human ideas, but its fulfillment has only been delayed! What we see as modern Christianity is nothing more than a distracting wrapper. And the genuine teachings of Jesus that still are safe within that wrapper are needed now more urgently than they ever have been needed before. Doesn’t every Christian on earth, including my three zealous clergyman friends, owe Jesus His right to at last be heard?
Child Jesus photo credit: Waiting For The Word <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/60532802@N07/5563066352″>Jesus at Twelve 39</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Risen Jesus photo credit: eshao5721 <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/165868022@N02/32473423548″>Gesù parla ai discepoli dopo la resurrezione</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>