When Jesus replaced all religious laws with God’s Law of Love, He abolished the notion of rules-based sin and created a whole new world in which right and wrong are based entirely on whether an act is loving or unloving. It is hard for us to get our minds around the magnitude of this change! And the consequences of it are such that it is going to take two weeks for us to start a conversation that is likely to continue beyond the rest of our lives. What we call divine laws are human-made. They have little to do with the genuine God. And doing away with them is the spiritual equivalent of being a sixteen-year-old at last entrusted with the car-keys. Humankind is growing up spiritually! And without those arbitrary laws that always have come between us and the Godhead, we can accept all the glorious opportunities and responsibilities that come with growing up. With those words from Jesus two thousand years ago, humankind was being ushered into the start of spiritual adulthood! That it has taken us two thousand years to accept God’s challenge that we at last grow up takes nothing from the sweetness of this moment. Today we will look at how we got to this place. Then next week we will start to consider how we might begin to accept God’s challenge.
From distant prehistoric times, humankind has dwelt in fear of a gigantic and highly adversarial Unknown. The result has been a lot of man-made superstitions and desperate beliefs in human-made gods that could let us put a name to our fears and give us a focus for rituals that might help us start to feel less helpless. Over time, what began as local gods and rituals were aggregated under regional gods, until eventually monotheism began to take root. One all-powerful god was easier to deal with than all those despotic demi-gods! The ancient Jewish tribes were among the first people to solidify their worship in one all-powerful god, so it makes sense that when the Godhead chose to elevate our understanding all over the world, it was to the Jews that Jesus came as God’s emissary.
There is no religion that really knows and can reveal to us the genuine Godhead. That fact is not a surprise to you. What may be something of a surprise will be learning that Jesus was not the first, nor is He the last divine being sent by God to start to spiritually elevate humankind! We know about Moses and the Buddha, and students of religion know that there have been many other prophets who brought their wisdom to primitive people, many of whom then soon built their own human-made religions around those bits of received divine wisdom. By now there are some 4,300 separate religions, the biggest of which have been broken into thousands of additional sects over time, so today Christianity alone boasts some 40,000 variations. Nearly all of our more than four thousand core religions were developed in isolation over eons, but in fact virtually every human religion is built around just one simple precept. If that precept was not given to us as many separate revelations over eons of time from the emissaries of a single Godhead, then how is it possible that more than four thousand religions have this one core teaching in common? Rabbi Hillel was a great Jewish sage who died in old age when Jesus was a teenager. He put that one ancient divine message this way: “That which is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation.”
All religions are built around the Golden Rule! And when every religion is built upon the simple divine revelation that we should do to others what we want others to do to us, then how is it possible that no modern religion makes the Golden Rule its primary teaching? Where do all those other religious dogmas come from? And beyond that, how can we explain the fact that all significant religions share the same five traits?
All modern religions of any size share the following characteristics:
They include one or more gods or godlike beings in human form. Often it is the emissary from the Godhead who brought to local people the Golden Rule who is then depicted as either the god or a leading servant of the god. The pictures that illustrate this week’s post are all examples of these gods and holy beings that were created in human form by people bent on building their own religions.
They require that their adherents believe things for which there is no proof. Every religion has a set of dogmas that its followers are required to take on faith. The god is powerful; the god dwells in a mountain, or it requires certain feast and fasting days; the god wants the sacrifice of each firstborn child, or the god died and was revived, and so on.
They demand adherence to a set of laws that they claim are of divine provenance. Every modern religion includes a set of laws that were purportedly handed down by its god. The Ten Commandments listed in the Christian Old Testament are a set of supposedly divine laws that have been in place for adherents of the Abrahamic religions with only modest variations for at least the past three thousand years.
They make big promises. The notion that we can survive our deaths if we strictly observe a religion’s dogmas is perhaps the most common such promise, but there are others. Human-made gods take care of their own, provided that their devotees remain forever those gods’ obedient and powerless servants.
They are based in fear and guilt. Christianity is a great example! Jesus came to us from God with a love-based and fear-free set of teachings. But no one takes a religion seriously unless it can instill in us guilt and fear, so in order to form their new religion, Christianity’s founders added Original Sin, a fiery hell, and the Lord’s crucifixion for our sins to save us from the judgment of a wrathful god. Christianity is fear and guilt on steroids.
It is striking that all modern religions share all (or nearly all) of the above five traits! There must be reasons why this is true, and indeed there are some excellent reasons. All these traits directly address central human needs or characteristics. Briefly:
Free will is a core element of the human condition. The spiritual growth that we all enter our lives on earth to seek requires that we expose ourselves to negativity so we can choose against it. The fact that free will is an essential part of being human means that we must also be able to choose not to listen to God’s emissaries; and if we choose against God, then neither God nor God’s minions will attempt to override us. They will just, with endless patience and over and over again, share with us divine wisdom that is suited to our stage of spiritual development. Which is why so many divine emissaries have been needed!
Every person on earth is vibrating at a relatively low level. We have talked endlessly about the fact that consciousness is all that objectively exists, and that we come to earth to growspiritually; and until we reach the upper part of what we call the afterlife levels, we are unable to raise our consciousness vibrations unless we are exposed to the sort of deep negativity that we can find on earth.
Human beings strive to organize information and minimize unknowns. We have always organized our understandings as best we could, and we have made educated guesses at the rest. Every god that human beings ever have believed in and worshiped has been a product of these educated guesses.
Voluntary human associations are unstable. People are stubbornly independent! The only human associations that are even remotely stable are those – like governments – which instill in us a fear of disobeying their leaders. No religion that doesn’t instill fear in its followers ever lasts for very long.
We are born with an eager craving to reunite with the Godhead. There is indeed one genuine God! Our minds are all inextricably part of that one infinitely powerful and infinitely creative force which continuously manifests this universe, so it is little wonder that an eventual reunion with God is a human need that we crave even more than we crave food and drink. The fact that no religion is capable of delivering reunion with the true Godhead because all of them are based in false doctrines is not the fault of the many divine messengers who over the eons have tried to enlighten us.
So now it is not much of a stretch for us to draw the following conclusions:
Every divine emissary in human history has come to us from the same Godhead.
Nearly all of them have given us some version of the same message.
There is therefore just one human religion that has nearly infinite cultural variations.
There being only one Godhead and one culturally varied religion, when Jesus came to replace the old notions of sin with God’s perfect Law of Love, He did that for every devotee of every religion upon the face of the earth.
Jesus came from the Source to lead all of humankind to the young-adult stage of our spiritual development. He came to hand us the keys to our lives! We are no longer to be forced by fear of divine retribution to obey a set of laws, as grade-school children are required to obey rules until they grow enough to be able to accept responsibility for their own actions.
To be frank, we don’t obey religious laws anyway. Read the Ten Commandments, for example. We see them as just suggestions, don’t we? All of us would kill to protect those we love, we honor our parents to the extent they are honorable, few of us adequately mark the Sabbath, and there is no human being who breathes who has never felt the pangs of jealousy. The Ten Commandments are just suggestions! And some of them are trivial ones. But we are told the Ten Commandments are laws from God, so their very existence instills in us both guilt and a smug self-satisfaction. Guilt if we violate maybe three or four commandments, but a “good enough” passing-grade satisfaction if we can minimally observe the other six or seven!
We must leave those old divine laws behind if we are ever to learn about divine love. Human-made rules and God’s infinite love are utterly incompatible. But with all rules gone, we find ourselves beginning to expand in powerful ways. We start to glimpse glorious new beginnings. It is only when we remove the human-made laws that long have come between us and God that we can truly meet and begin to know and love the genuine Godhead.
Dead Jesus statue photo credit: Stanley Zimny (Thank You for 46 Million views) <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/82256086@N00/44105688010″>Colorful Pieta</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Egyptian gods photo credit: ER’s Eyes – Thanks for the 20 million views! <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/41111966@N04/45573493902″>The Old Gods, Alabaster Store, West Bank, Luxor, Egypt.</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Buddha photo credit: UweBKK (α 77 on ) <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/8136604@N05/49325039632″>Buddha image at the Pavilion of the Enlightened in Muang Boran (Ancient City) in Samut Phrakan, Thailand</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Thai gods photo credit: UweBKK (α 77 on ) <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/8136604@N05/49284244036″>Sculpture of Phra Sukra in the Garden of the Gods in Muang Boran in Samut Phrakan, Thailand</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Hindu gods photo credit: jay galvin <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/36957368@N00/48538681597″>Ganesha and Lakshmi – Hindu</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Neptune at sunset photo credit: virtualwayfarer <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/32368927@N02/31010151725″>Neptune at Sunset</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Cambodian gods photo credit: UweBKK (α 77 on ) <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/8136604@N05/44258795074″>Statues of Gods lining the causeway entering the ancient city of Angkor Thom near Siem Reap, Cambodia</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Greek gods at war photo credit: torbakhopper <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/32029534@N00/24445037928″>gods in color @ the legion of honor, scott richard</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>
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