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 does not identify you as a Christian, but says they are deeply inspired by your great love of people and genuine 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 right for me. Being smack center of Risen, Teacher, and Oneness makes the most sense in the world. Ultimately, Jesus is all of the above. His life demonstrates non-duality, truth to pwoer, oneness with God, wisdom, healing, selflessness, rebirth - and God among us. God in us, around us, below us, above us as the 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, while an easterner might say he reached enlightenment; or Jesus is risen and Christ is God living in me as a source of renewal, replenishing and fueling my life. Is that a bad thing?
And 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 if we let it hang out a while -- like a bottle of wine -- and give it time to breathe, it finds its place in your understanding. This room to breathe also creates space for more questions.
And if you worry about sounding dumb or crazy, don't. Not 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 really means is nothing! Christians will 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 remain the same. Shifts in cultural influence shape how we hear these words too.
My curiosity and desire to understand 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?
This part of the story is a big leap when grappling with the nature of God.
Does forgiveness of sins happen in an act-of-mercy-from-a-top-down-hierarchical-system-with-God-as-monarch kind of way? Did God sacrifice his son by rules of his own design that he answers to, for ours to be forgiven? C'mon. That makes no sense in anyone's paradigm. Unless, of course, it's not quite the way it sounds. Is it possible our emphasis is wrongly placed? Smomeone recently asked,
What if dying on the cross was the conclusion, not the reason?
(can't find the reference, probably Rollins or Rohr)
What if it's simply how it played out?
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 would experience forgiveness as an outcome that unfolded in culture, at that time - while keeping the experience alive through story and spirit, giving us the ability to experience humanity and God anew.
It's unlikely how we hear it said is how we'd say it today. We might need some tweaking for our language to understand it better. Perhaps it's too conclusive for our process-oriented culture.
Recently, Peter Rollins asked the question, "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 experience being (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.
When I worry if my ideas will hurt my husband's reputation as a pastor (crazy heathen wife)... the same idea shows up in recent writings, often the same day, by scholars like Brueggeman, Borg, Rollins, Rohr, or NT Wright. It is goose-bump producing and validating. Asking questions of Christianity that didn't fit inside one world-view wasn't encouraged in the past, and I feared being ostracized. Working mostly alone, this beautiful synchronicity pushed me to continue.
Thank you wise teachers whom I do not yet know....you are welcome companions on the journey.
Rollins was suggesting a way of being that was intended to drive humanity from here on out, like a central operating mechanism. I imagine this not to be linear like a flow chart, but a method, a consciousness shift, to touch holy and a higher consciousness. A spiritual reality in which we lived from a place of non-duality. And, what if, when we moved in, we found humanity manifesting more compassion, forgiveness, love, healing, kindness, and a gentler, humane world? Or becoming a species that, for the most part, is authentic, accountable, and honest about who we are. Even if imperfectly so.
Some people appear to naturally operate in a non-dualistic posture. What characterizes them most to you?
Would this create a more compassionate world - where forgiveness is a fundamental value? It wouldn't take long to see we're "missing the mark" when our hearts and minds aren't aligned with God. Would our experience of humanity inspire us to desire to master this new way of being?
Or has it already?
Stay in the questions. Does it matter if we don't fully grasp what forgiveness of sins means, other than love? What really matters is we realize God is love and eternal, as are you and I - and you are connected to this great big mystery of love unfolding. Do you acknowledge it?
Sometimes it's wise to get out of our own way, show up open, stay present, and listen deeply. Everything else is chatter anyway.
Be the love. Listen from it too. God's voice can be found in the stillness - and in the love.
More on this another day. In the meantime,
*Peace to your house,
Originally posted May 2, 2015