What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear.
And what a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer.
– Joseph M. Scriven (1819-1886), from “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (1855)
Without the work of researchers who have studied the afterlife and the greater reality, we still would know almost nothing about what it was that Jesus actually taught. For nearly two millennia, Christians have believed that Jesus was born to be a sacrifice. God was never going to forgive us, so Jesus took it upon Himself to claim all our evil deeds as His own and then die horribly in our stead. So then God would finally forgive us. Oh, a few Gospel bits would be read in church, but generally they were disconnected platitudes about love and forgiveness. And the way the churches long have taught it, loving and forgiving were only feel-good ideas that Jesus shared with us before going to the cross to perform His mission of redeeming us from God’s judgment. It was the Lord’s sacrificial death that was important, even in Protestant churches! In my childhood church, the crucifix was blessedly shorn of the body of Jesus, but still that cross was His central symbol. An instrument of torture and horrific death. A constant guilt-filled reminder of what He had to endure because of our own failings. We even were happy to wear silver crucifixes on silver chains around our necks.
It was only in my early teens, when I began to read the entire Bible, that I realized Jesus had a lot more to say! Soon I was looking forward to the Gospels as I slogged through the Books of Zechariah and Malachi, always feeling at the end of Malachi that I had abruptly landed in the modern day. I would sit at the feet of Jesus, reading favorite passages over and over and reveling in seeing ever deeper meanings. I kept up this nightly Bible-reading habit into my early fifties, at which point I had done enough afterlife research to feel certain that all the Christian teachings were absolutely, stone-cold wrong. So then I had my well-deserved crisis of faith, and I put aside both the Bible and the afterlife evidence for the next two years.
When I finally picked up my Bible again and read just the Gospels, I realized that the teachings of Jesus and the afterlife evidence completely agree. That amazing rainy afternoon was the greatest moment of my life! Jesus knew things two thousand years ago that we could not have corroborated until the twentieth century. And it seems that no one else in history has made and gone public with this discovery. How astonishing is that? The point is that these are not coincidences. They are instead gigantic revelations. For Jesus to have spoken as He did, He has to have known while He lived on earth what afterlife researchers are only now learning.
This really does transform our ability to understand Jesus. For one example, I have found no Christian clergyman who ever has puzzled out what Jesus means when He refers to the kingdom of God (or the kingdom of heaven, which seems to mean the same thing). Jesus uses one term or the other some eighty times through all four Gospels, so arguably unless we know what those terms mean to Him, we cannot understand the Lord’s actual mission. And thanks to insights gleaned when we read the Gospels in conjunction with the afterlife evidence, we are confident now that the Lord’s primary mission was to teach us how to raise our personal consciousness vibrations away from fear and toward the perfect love of the Godhead. When we have reached the spiritual development of what we call the sixth level of the afterlife, the level just below the Source, then we will personally have achieved the kingdom of God. And when we have established that level of spiritual development in a significant portion of living humanity, then we will have accomplished the Lord’s ultimate goal of bringing the kingdom of God on earth.
The modern Christian whose work I most admire is Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest and founder of The Center for Action & Contemplation In Albuquerque, New Mexico. Especially if you have a Catholic background, I urge you to sign up for the daily meditations in which Father Rohr and his team do a beautiful job of bringing Christianity into the modern age. This is from their daily meditation for November 18th:
“The Kingdom of Heaven is really a metaphor for a state of consciousness; it is not a place you go to, but a place you come from. It is a whole new way of looking at the world, a transformed awareness that literally turns this world into a different place. . . The hallmark of this awareness is that it sees no separation—not between God and humans, not between humans and other humans. And these are indeed Jesus’s two core teachings, underlying everything he says and does. . . .
“When Jesus talks about this Oneness . . . . what he more has in mind is a complete, mutual indwelling: I am in God, God is in you, you are in God, we are in each other. His most beautiful symbol for this is in the teaching in John 15 where he says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Abide in me as I in you” [see John 15:4–5]. A few verses later he says, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love” [John 15:9]. . . . There is no separation between humans and God because of this mutual interabiding which expresses the indivisible reality of divine love. . . .
“No separation between human and human is an equally powerful notion—and equally challenging. One of the most familiar of Jesus’s teachings is “Love your neighbor as yourself” [Matthew 22:39] . . . as a continuation of your very own being. It’s a complete seeing that your neighbor is you. There are not two individuals out there . . . there are simply two cells of the one great Life.”
As is usual with what we read from Father Rohr’s team, all of this is true. And here they come so close! But because they cannot know what we have learned in doing afterlife research, it seems just aspirational, doesn’t it? Father Rohr clearly sees the goal! You want to say to him, “Great insights, sir! Now, how do we get there?”
What Father Rohr and his team don’t realize is that Jesus told us how to get there. And He made it so easy! But we can only make use of His teachings as a program for rapid spiritual growth if we can (a) see that His teachings are more than platitudes, and (b) also know enough about how consciousness and the greater reality work to be able to apply the Lord’s teachings productively to our daily lives.
Jesus sums up the ultimate goal of His teachings for all of humankind in His Lord’s Prayer. There He says, “Your kingdom come, Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven” (MT 6:10). He flat-out tells us that we are to bring the spiritual development of the highest levels of the afterlife to those who are in bodies on earth. And He insists that this elevation of each human mind happens internally! He says, “The kingdom of God is not coming with signs to be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or, ‘There it is!’ For behold, the kingdom of God is within you” (LK 17:20-21). Thanks to our study of consciousness as it relates to the afterlife evidence, we now know that Jesus is exactly right. And fortunately, since we are all part of one Mind, we can gladly estimate that the elevation of as little as ten percent of the earth’s population to that highest level of spiritual development will be sufficient to begin the advent of the kingdom of God over all the earth!
It is impossible to achieve the Lord’s goal for humankind as it is so well stated by Father Rohr unless we can effect the spiritual transformation on earth that Jesus taught us to pray for. No amount of trying really hard to love your neighbor as yourself (LK 10:27) can produce much spiritual change! But Jesus has the answer for this as well. The key to our learning how to love in the transformational way that God wants us to love is for us to learn prevenient forgiveness. And our afterlife-based understanding of human consciousness shows us why this is true!
We enter these bodies with awareness of only a limited subset of our vast, eternal minds. We temporarily pack away the rest. And importantly, the subset that we use while in bodies is designed for rapid spiritual growth: these earth-minds are lazy, governed by habit, and easily re-programmed. And every wrong that we ever might need to forgive is something that we ourselves have taught our minds is a personal wrong to be fought. We aren’t born knowing that our stuff is our stuff, or that people are attacking us when they cut us off in traffic; but as we grow up, our ego-based self-protectiveness instills into our minds these certainties. We have created our own mistaken habits of thought! And forgiving each perceived “wrong” only after it happens is simply too stressful and too much work. BUT. If we can make our minds’ reactions the whole problem, and we at once perform some boring ritual that distracts our minds whenever they present us with a wrong that would otherwise need to be forgiven, we find that within weeks our lazy minds will re-program themselves and just stop bothering. Then we no longer care if someone steals from us or nearly forces us off the road. And as we get past even the need to forgive, our natural love and affinity for our neighbor starts on its own to bud and blossom. And then it abundantly thrives!
Two decades have passed since I first realized that the Gospel words of Jesus prove He is probably an aspect of the genuine Godhead. I have spent the intervening time in researching, teaching, and trying to ever better understand and use the Gospel teachings in the ways that Jesus wants us to use them. At first, I was my own guinea pig. And with prompting from Thomas, I had amazing results! So then I wrote a book about what I had been learning in order to let others try it out. What I hear from readers suggests that they are having similar results; but the key to making this program work well is probably going to be for groups of seekers to help and encourage one another. And that will come soon. For now, though, let’s talk about how we can better apply to our daily lives the deeply transformative love that God wants all of us to be learning now. And let’s begin next week with what might be our greatest human challenge….
Can we find a friend so faithful
Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness;
Take it to the Lord in prayer.
– Joseph M. Scriven (1819-1886), from “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (1855)