“Everyone who hears these words of Mine
and acts on them may be compared to a wise man
who built his house on the rock.
And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew
and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall,
for it had been founded on the rock.” – Jesus, from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 7, Verses 24-25
One thing that strikes you when you read the Bible from Genesis through Revelation is that Jesus speaks to us as a modern man. In contrast, the Old Testament feels ancient! Parts of it are beautiful, true, but still it all seems pat and religious, just old ideas and divine edicts that no longer seem to fit us well. So I have been freshly astonished each time I have left the Book of Malachi and begun to read the Gospel of Matthew. We are suddenly in the modern world! Jesus is amazingly timely, speaking in simple and comfortable terms and seeming almost to be answering questions as soon as they occur to us. He speaks from the timeless Godhead. After the Gospel of John come The Acts of the Apostles and Paul’s Epistles, books not so ancient as the Old Testament but still seeming deep in the long-ago. The difference between the rest of the Bible and those four Gospels is the difference between reading dusty manuscripts and watching breaking news on a flat-screen TV.
Jesus speaks to us directly. Today. You have the sense, too, that people who read the Gospels two thousand years from now will find in them the same living Friend Who speaks in their own language. Jesus lives! He is alive in the present in a way in which no other historical or religious figure can be said to be alive. And as we freshly read the Gospels, we find that He told us two thousand years ago precisely what He wants from us now. Last week Thomas pulled from the Lord’s teachings four characteristics of His modern Way:
The Way is complete at the Lord’s Resurrection.
The Way is not a religion, so it has no prophets and no clergy.
The Way has no dogmas and no traditions.
The Way uses the Lord’s teachings to help each individual follower achieve real spiritual growth.
This gives us a great beginning, but we need a lot more information! Let’s ask Jesus if He will share with us more about what He has in mind as we begin to implement His Way:
His teachings must not be added to or blended with any other set of teachings. They are not to be folded into Judaism, nor even read together with the Psalms and the Prophets! He says, “But no one puts a patch of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; for the patch pulls away from the garment, and a worse tear results. Nor do people put new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the wineskins burst, and the wine pours out and the wineskins are ruined; but they put new wine into fresh wineskins, and both are preserved” (MT 9:16-17). So not only must our message be just the Lord’s words prior to His Resurrection, but we also must not create a mess of burst skins and spilled wine by attempting to incorporate into the Lord’s Way anything that was said before His birth.
His teachings are to be shared not as part of a religion, but as a separate line of wisdom. He wants the clerics of His day to continue to lead their flocks in their ancestral religion, while at the same time they also offer His teachings as a new divinerevelation. He says, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old” (MT 13:52). In the same way, Thomas tells us that the Way must be offered to all, with no thought of wanting anyone ever to leave an existing religion. Christians, Muslims, Jews, and others will find the Lord’s teachings compatible with whatever are their existing beliefs. Thomas tells me it will be very important that we never speak against any religion, but instead our whole task is to spiritually support the adherents of every religion on earth by demonstrating and broadly sharing the Lord’s Way.
His teachings require spiritual preparation if they are to bear fruit in listeners’ hearts. He explains the parable of the sower (LK 8:4-8) by demonstrating that unless people are prepared on a spiritual level to hear His teachings, they won’t be able to follow them. He says, “The seed is the word of God. Those beside the road are those who have heard; then a demon comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they will not believe. … Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; but they have no firm root, so they believe for a while but in time of temptation fall away. The seed which fell among the thorns, these are the ones who have heard, and as they go on their way they are choked with worries and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to maturity. But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit in abundance” (LK 8:11-15).
His teachings are meant to spread not from any spiritual leader, but naturally in the human community. This is crucially important to Jesus! And it is yet more evidence of the Lord’s aversion to religious leaders. He says, “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; and this is smaller than all other seeds, but when it is full grown, it is larger than the garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.” He spoke another parable to them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three pecks of flour until it was all leavened” (MT 13:31-33). This sort of gradual, organic, seeping growth is not possible for a traditional religion, where each convert must learn new ideas and simply accept them all on faith. It is only genuine divine wisdom that places no restraints upon our minds, but just gives us glorious and timeless ideas that can comfortably grow in our hearts.
His teachings work internally on each of us and at the level of Spirit. Jesus all but tells us what we know now to be true, which is that there is one Mind of which every human mind is a part. He says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (JN 6:63). “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).
Spiritual humility is essential! The temptation toward smugness and self-importance is ever-present for people inspired to do something big, so the Lord keeps beating our egos down. He says, “Many who are first will be last, and the last, first” (MK 10:31). “The greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (MT 23:11-12). “Whoever receives this child in My name receives Me, and whoever receives Me receives Him who sent Me; for the one who is least among all of you, this is the one who is great” (LK 9:48). In my experience, raising your personal vibration serves to lessen the ego’s hold, so it makes you naturally gentler and milder. And that is a very good thing! When Jesus tells us that to enter the kingdom of God we must become like a little child, He is giving us a basic law of spiritual physics. He says, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all” (MK 10:14-15).
He intends that those who follow Him will teach not so much by lecturing as by example. And it is a great deal harder to live the Way than it is to simply try to teach it! But to live it for all the world to see is our divinely mandated task. He says, “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (MT 5:13-16).
There can be nothing about the sharing of The Way that makes these teachings feel difficult. Religions demand a lot from us! But The Way is nothing like a religion. Instead, it is a sweet and love-filled plan for joyfully living life on earth, and it works whether or not you practice any religion. Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (MT 11:28-30).
So now you see how different the Christian religion is from what the Lord has been telling us all along that He has in mind! And you also can see that what He asked of us while He was living on the earth can just as easily be our charge today. Indeed, it may be only in the modern world that His Way can actually transform the world! Two thousand years ago, all He could do was to set His disciples on the open road with a warning to be careful (MT 10:16-20) as they followed His directive to “make disciples of all the nations … teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (MT 28:19-20). Lifting the consciousness vibrations of the world in such a gradual way would likely have taken until “the end of the age,” even if they had at the time truly understood what His charge was to them!
Jesus is with us still today, as alive for us now as He ever has been. He is calling on us to use the power of all our twenty-first-century tools to deliver to humankind His most essential messages. The kingdom of God is at hand! All it needs now is for those of us who have awakened to His eternal truths to make teaching and living The Way our priority….
“Everyone who hears these words of Mine
and does not act on them
will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.
The rain fell, and the floods came,
and the winds blew and slammed against that house;
and it fell—and great was its fall.”
– Jesus, from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 7, Verses 26-27
Face of Jesus photo credit: Thomas Hawk <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/51035555243@N01/16048967919″>Little Ones to Him Belong</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a>
Forgiven puzzle photo credit: Puzzler4879 <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/24882165@N07/25716217690″>”Forgiven” Happy Easter to All!</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/”>(license)</a>
You can find Roberta’s radio show and podcast posted freshly each Monday on Webtalkradio.net. If there is any guest you would like her to interview, or anything you hope she will talk about, please send your suggestions via the Contact block!