Tuesday, 6 January 2015
I've always known that love is the key.
But its a carrot of idealism dangling just out of reach.
Yet the mere fact that I/we dream of it, long for it and momentarily embrace it...
the fact that we are even capable of such ideas...
Shows it must be attainable - that we really can live loved.
Most embrace the concept that we are born broken as truth. We declare our sinfulness as inherent, the fruit of rebellion. We have accepted the biblical story that we are filthy and completely incapable of anything good without "repenting" and accepting the perfection of Jesus as a sacrifice that enables us to be welcomed back into God's fold.
There are so many doctrines that explain this process - so many subtle variations and nuances. There are huge disagreements as well. Some say God is angry with us and can't bear to look at us and only sees Jesus when He looks our way. Others say that Jesus took all our sinfulness on himself to allow us to be clean enough for God to live in us.
Many reinterpretations of scripture.
I studied the role of Jesus in this whole dilemma most of my life. Even in bible college, I knew all the right answers, but still nothing sat right. Every theory fell far short of my deepest experience with God. I mean, I wanted all the doctrines to be right. I really tried to make them work. But despite that, I couldn't make sense of the whole idea that somehow, God just couldn't simply forgive us for "missing the mark" and acting in unloving ways, without the whole Jesus thing.
I can see the psychological value of using Jesus as a point of identification, a scapegoat, someone we can dump all our crap on so we get to walk free of the guilt and shame. I can see the benefits of accepting that it's "Jesus in us" that is the point of perfection - the focus - that brings us to perfection and peace. I get that, and all the other doctrines built around everything he did.
BUT, it has always seemed like second best - a stopgap. In fact, most religions seem to just be bandages trying to cover a deep belief paradigm that is essentially flawed from the ground up.
Most of my life I believed christianity had every answer, that the bible contained the entire wisdom of God and was the sole source of all truth, and everything else was just deception or imitation. And yet I also had the niggling feeling that we were missing a far bigger picture.
What if we aren't essentially and intrinsically broken and flawed, born in sin? Suppose we are born perfect and what really happens is we forget as we grow. We become victims of everyone else who has forgotten until all that's left is a shell full of guilt, shame, fear and "missing the mark" of love.
Perhaps we've got it all backwards! Love is the essential nature of the universe. God is love, love holds everything together, it brings life, it IS life, it's universal consciousness, and our real journey in life is remembering that.
Just imagine if the "renewing of our minds" is all to do with simply focusing on that love and drawing it out of others - choosing to see everything else simply as the absence of love. We then choose to see each other as creatures of love, that are hurting and blind - blind to who they really are, and we can simply BE love to each other. We can be compassion and empathy, and look through the unloving actions and thoughts to the real person of love in all of us.
The only thing that brings real, lasting change is love. We all know this, despite our emotional reactions, we all know that if we were truly loved more, we would love more. We would be changed!
We can not bring love to each other until we love ourselves. We can love Jesus and defer all our identity on to him. We can say "I am nothing and Jesus is everything", but that's just a false image. It's transferring our true nature in an act of false humility, because we are afraid that we may actually be way better than we have thought.
I think that our unity with God is such that we are perfect at our core, that we are pure unconditional love in the deepest part of our being. I believe we can choose, as we renew our minds, to see this in each other. I think the stopgap of christian doctrine has had its day, and it really hasn't been a good day despite it's moments!
I look at scripture with a whole different lens these days. I see the layers of religion that have been overlaid and used to reinvent Jesus. I see a limited collection of documents assembled to reinforce a particular set of beliefs that had arisen after Jesus. I see these documents as records of the struggles of men trying to piece together a coherent religion out of something that was never meant to be one!
In saying all this, I risk being accused of being arrogant and patronising, of trashing 2000 years of tradition and the collective wisdom of thousands of biblical scholars and theologians. It's not my intention however, and I still respect the journey I have been on (and have hardly started in reality) and we are all on. I owe my continued existence in this world to my faith in Jesus that I clung to through thick and thin. I respect the value of the tenets of faith, and won't belittle or "talk down" to those who find life there.
I am however, finding far deeper waters. I've seen too much to confine myself to one set of doctrines and theologies. I've found God to be so much bigger, better, more loving and life giving than anything biblical christianity has ever produced, and I simply want to share that and encourage everyone to take nothing for granted - not the bible, not tradition, not teachers or wise men, not me, not anyone or anything! Question - explore - dismantle - assume nothing - and most importantly find the love that is at our core, because there lies our true worth and life.