I live in the thin place between Risen Savior and Wisdom Teacher. Rejecting Jesus as Wisdom Teacher because the vernacular is commonly associated with Buddhism makes little sense. Why can't Jesus be whatever Jesus is to those who experience him? Including those who practice other religions. If he's a wisdom teacher, he's there, right? If someone said they don't know you as a Christian, but inspired by your great love of people and deep compassion, is it enough?
I live inside forgiveness and wisdom, Savior and teacher, enlightenment and resurrection. It's lovely there.
Living between forgiveness and wisdom, Savior and Teacher, enlightenment and resurrection is feels right for me. Being smack center of He is Risen and He is Oneness makes the most sense in the world. Ultimately, Jesus is all of the above. His life demonstrates non-duality, oneness with God, wisdom, healing, selflessness, rebirth - and God among us. God in us, around us, below us, above us - as Celts say.
Whatever he brings to those who meet him, wherever they meet him can't be a bad thing. Plus, miracles happen in all of it.
This middle place embraces the idea that says Jesus became one with God, or reached enlightenment as easterners would say; or Jesus is risen and Christ is God - who lives in me as a source of renewal replenishing and fueling my life. Is that a bad thing?
Whether you repel at talking about Jesus, or whether you invite it, it's hard to deny his life changed the world even if you think he was only a man. It's how his life unfolds in humanity throughout time that impacts me most - even more than the story of his life on earth. Simply observing how people have touched and experienced their highest selves - even if only for a moment - when they open to something they call Christ. This happens in combat, in homes, at revivals, at Eucharist, anywhere they are opening to the God of their understanding through Christ. People have a hard time explaining it, but they know it happened, and they know it's like nothing they've experienced before. That's what I know for sure.
He Came To Forgive Our Sins?
What does that mean? Language makes this a deal breaker for many of us, while for others, it's the point. I've had my moments too. It's not an easy leap after being disconnected from church, but I find that letting it hang out a while gives it time to breathe - like a just opened bottle of wine, it gets a little smoother. It creates space for more questions.
My curiosity loves visiting this idea. For me, it begs for a better grasp of God's spiritual execution, so to speak. Particularly when all that is - is the manifestation of God. Why would God need to re-plan, right?
This part of the God story is a big leap when grappling with the nature of God.
I can only share that I've learned deep dives into questions are worth exploring and hanging out in for a while, even when they sound crazy.
And if you worry about sounding dumb or crazy, don't worry about that when Christians are talking about God hanging on a cross, rising from the dead, walking on water, and making wine. Feeling stupid for not being clear about what forgiveness of sins means exactly, or it isn't logical to your mind is nothing! Christians will always sound crazier. Ask away.
Maybe we're all nuts, and maybe not. Perhaps the message was framed this way because it aligned with paradigms of the time. I think it might be said a little differently today, while the outcome could remain the same. Shifts in cultural influence shape how we hear these words too.
Many people ask me questions about God sacrificing his son. Talk about sounding crazy. They ask if he did this according to rules of his own design - and whether he had to answer to his own rules in order for ours to be forgiven. That makes no sense in anyone's paradigm. Unless, of course, this wasn't exactly how it sounds to our ears. Someone asked recently if it's possible that the cross is just how it played out. For instance, could Jesus just as easily have been trampled by the guard's horses? Maybe the cross wasn't the point even if Christians view the cross as a sacred symbol.
Is it possible that our emphasis (translate: obsession) on the cross is wrongly placed?
What if death on the cross was the conclusion, not the reason? Or the means, not the end?
Maybe his death on a cross didn't have to happen, but the resurrection did.
Something had to remind us what mattered - and show us God's movement in the world. Maybe that was it. In this scenario, we'd experience forgiveness as an outcome that unfolded - and the result is that we experience humanity and God anew through the resurrection.
It's unlikely how we hear it said is exactly how we'd say it now. Yet, it's probably true too - even if some word tweaking might help us understand it better. Perhaps the statement is too conclusive for our process-oriented culture.
Recently, Rohr or Rollins asked, "What if God was instituting a new operating system? Showing us a new way of being?"
His question startled me because I have often wondered the exact same thing. I saw it as shift in humanity's consciousness to see reality and be human in a new way. A synchronicity of thought was happening daily, and has continued since I began exploring my spiritual roots almost four years ago. Richard Rohr and some others consistently mirrored the exact questions I was asking, or topics I was thinking deeply about. It was both goose bump producing, and deeply validating. Asking questions of Christianity that didn't fit inside one world-view and its accompanying language was not encouraged in the past, and I was sure if anyone knew what I was thinking, I'd be laughed at or ostracized. With noone to discuss it comfortably with in my world, this synchronicity was encouraging, pushing me to continue.
I sometimes worry if my ideas and questions will hurt my husband's reputation as a pastor -- crazy heathen wife... and then the same idea is introduced in recent writings by writer theologians like Brueggeman, Borg, Rollins, Rohr, or NT Wright the same day I'm thinking about them. They tell me to keep going. This affirms I'm listening from a deeper place, even if not said as fluently as a theologian might. Thank you wise teachers whom I do not yet know....you are welcome companions on the journey.
I often think of Jesus as offering and modeling a new way of being that could drive humanity, like the central operating system Rollins suggested. Not a linear system, like a flow chart - but more of a method - a method of being in the world. Perhaps it's a total shift in human consciousness that now understands it has the capacity to touch a holy, higher consciousness - accessing/touching God with deeper awareness and intuition. This would, likely, be a spiritual reality that exists within a place of non-duality. And, what if, when we arrived there, we discover humanity is manifesting noticeably more compassion, forgiveness, love, healing, kindness, and together, creating a world we often imagined, but could not manifest? Or, perhaps, a transformed species - one more honest and informed about who it is. Even in its imperfection.
Some people appear to naturally operate in a non-dualistic posture. What characterizes them most to you?
Would this way of being create a more compassionate world? A world that holds forgiveness as a fundamental value? We might find we spontaneously know if we're missing the mark, or when our hearts and minds aren't aligned with God. Would experiencing humanity in this way inspire us to want to master this new way of being?
Ultimately, Jesus Christ unquestionably changed something about how humanity operates, no matter how you cut it. We can be grateful his life facilitated much of the human race to be more loving, gentle, kind, and compassionate. On the other hand, there is more at play here that we can't explain - where the deeper mystery lies.
I can only speak from my personal experience, which is to say there's a higher mystery outside our human reality. A mystery that calls us to it. I've experienced this in ways I can't deny. If I engage my understanding of the relationship symbolized by the Trinity, stuff happens. It makes sense to me in this context - but I'm a crazy Christian who thinks there's a Divine Presence, a Christ Spirit who came to hang out in a baby named Jesus, and a Holy Spirit that powers it all - and they were here since before time began and we are all in this mystery as we sit here right now, living right inside it, together.
But, does it really matter what I think? Or fully grasping what forgiveness of sins means, other than love? What really matters is that we realize the love of God is eternal, as are you and I - and that you know you're connected to this great big mystery of love unfolding - if you choose to acknowledge it.
Sometimes it's wiser for us to get out of our own way and just show up open, stay present, and listen deeply. Everything else is chatter anyway.
Be the love. And listen from it too. God's voice can be found in the stillness - and in the love.
Will be back to expand on this line of thinking one of these days....
Peace to your house, Linda