From the archives May 31, 2006
After a number of years with the Christian church, a decision to leave resulted in a deeper journey to self-discovery and spirit. Initially, this journey wanted nothing further to do with Christianity due to perceived shortcomings within the institution of religion. It is a belief that going deeper into the meaning and context of ‘What is the nature of love’ would expand consciousness to embrace more deeply the intent, nature, and teachings that Jesus offered.
After leaving the church, spiritual issues continued to tease consciousness as I fumbled through our modern culture wondering why – secular and religious communities alike – there appeared to be such a spiritual void in our society today. Further study into other religions provided a better understanding of other beliefs, cultures, and people, along with their origins. Studying quantum theory to a degree offered a better understanding of the science of creation. It is important to remember that science has done much to further substantiate religious teachings in many ways over the centuries. Coming back to review the New Testament, this new information offered a correlation between Jesus’ teachings and how it fits with many values and beliefs.
Reflecting upon scripture, seeking deeper insight, a walk through a natural setting provided a nurturing atmosphere. Asking for further insight to the meaning of the red-letter phrase recorded in a gospel verse, great learning and perspective demonstrated more fully and simply what Jesus attempted to share with a society 2,000 years ago. This is important to realize as well. There would be no way that Jesus could elaborate his knowing to the people of that time in the context that we can achieve today. He was limited by the societal knowledge and context of that era. Farm people, common people, enslaved people, governed people, people with various religious beliefs and gods, Jews steeped in their religious history and socialization, and so on. He had no other choice than to speak their language.
Today, we have access to much more knowledge and language. This allows us to take what Jesus said and ask for further clarification and insight. What more is available? How does this fit within the context of quantum physics research? How does this fit within the context of all religions? Remember an important point here: Jesus did not start the religion Christianity. The religion came hundreds of years later and was entangled with political agendas for that time. Jesus taught Jews, Romans, Samarians, Canaanites, and to anyone with an open heart and ear to listen and eyes to witness. His brand of faith was not in religion, although He used it to help those listening be better able to understand concepts that he spoke. Jesus’ faith was not in religion, it was in God. His faith was not restricted to the Synagogues; it was in the fields, on the roads, by the well, in the courtyard, around a supper table, and so on.
Knowing this to be true has led me to my destination of today – tomorrow’s is yet to be realized. With what I’ve acquired, I’d continue to share new reflections on select verses as the New Testament is revisited. I’m not looking to debate faith – I’m looking to share ideas and create freedom of spirit for many.
In the very beginning, Jesus began preaching a very simple message: “Turn away from your sins, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near!” This statement early in the four gospels sums up His entire ministry and the entirety of his teachings. Researching a variety of other disciplines, texts, and sciences included words, their meanings, original languages and the nuances of meaning in the social context of the time, and so on.
In relation to the statement, “Turn away from your sins, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near!” I happened upon another writer’s exposition related to the word sin. A sin is simply the act of going against your self. In its simplest terms, the choice is positive or it is negative and it is personal to you. By and large, we can agree that there are just some things that are not to be done by anyone: Murder, Assault, and Rape. There are equally, or even more so, a large number of things that we cannot agree upon. This is also why judgment has become such a disease within all organized religions, between religions, and between religious and non-religious people worldwide. Judgment is also why Jesus reminds everyone to take the log out of their own eye! More than anything, this calls us to accept differences and recognize value in diversity; also stated in the analogy of the importance a thumb has to the human body, so too do each of us in society!
Let me elucidate the positive and negative issue that is to interpret the word sin. Not to sin is to not go against your self. Follow your gut, your values, your passion, and be true to yourself. This is all positive and even though some of your values go against someone else’s, it doesn’t make you wrong and it does not make your actions sinful. This offers freedom of choice to everyone. Of course, Jesus went further, as did the writer explaining sin, that our emotional intent, towards others and ourselves, is equally important. Saying or doing nasty things that hurt someone else will also hurt you; this is sin. Saying or doing loving things that will uplift yourself and others is not sin. These actions, attitudes, emotions also directly affect your relationship to the mysterious entity known as God.
There is a lot of background that I’m leaving out and I invite you to dig deeper yourself. “Turn away from your sins, because the Kingdom of Heaven is near.” This statement has so much to do with what is in our hearts, minds, and subsequent actions. How we perceive the world, how we project onto the world, and how we engage with the world, are all relevant to this phrase. Being Joyful, seeing Beauty in everything, learning to Accept the present moment, Loving your own self, Loving others, and Trusting God; all of these things create the Kingdom of Heaven right here, right now. Going the opposite direction leads to death and misery — to hell. Let me take you a step further to explain what I saw.
“Go in through the narrow gate, because the gate to hell is wide and the road that leads to it is easy, and there are many who travel it. But the gate to life is narrow and the way that leads to it is hard, and there are few people who find it.”
Take a look around you and notice how the majority are living their lives. Notice how many are miserable with their lives, their marriages, their careers, their financial burdens, and their lost dreams. The narrow gate is not outside of you, the narrow gate is you. The wide gate is the world and following the crowd, the flavor of the day, and the want of the hour. The hard road, the narrow road, is the road to discovering more of who you are and what you came into this world to accomplish. Are you an artist? Share your art, be that artist. Are you a businessman? Then be the best businessman you can be. Are you a teacher? Then teach and teach well. In every case, do not neglect your own heart and the heart of God. As hard as it is, in due time it will all come together.
In the context of our modern society, I have an observed correlation to the wide-road. For a number of years I worked as an employment counselor / coach. Continually frustrated by the majority trying to follow the dollar, thinking happiness and satisfaction were there, I witnessed many unfulfilled careers, education, and lives stumble around looking for themselves. The demand for today and tomorrow, the hottest trend, the highest paid occupations, these are not necessarily your path. If I try to pursue that which is not me, then I am uncomfortable, less successful, less fulfilled, often stressed, and even broke, as studies and my own experience repeatedly demonstrate.
You are created in God’s image. You are creative and a creator. So is God. We certainly don’t fit any other image of God that I have witnessed with my own eyes. The closer you are to engaging your creative talents in service to the world, society, spirit, or whatever, the more closely aligned you are and in relationship with God. This, again, means going within – where God speaks quietly to you – and discovering your own truth and finding your narrow gate and path. It’s yours and yours alone. The man-made path is what has created a lot of the problems we experience en masse in society today. Problems in today’s society? Yes!
Godly people know that love is more powerful than force. Godly people know that they have gifts that are to be used. Godly people know that they are to be forgiving, to be less judgmental, to love their neighbor, and to love their enemy. Society also knows these things and knows we are better served to educate, feed, and assist those who are less fortunate, those who are broken, destitute, etc. We — secular, religious, spiritual, everyone — loved Mother Theresa for it! We loved Gandhi for his role in history. We loved Princess Diana too! There are so many who did their best in their small way and made big differences as a result. Why don’t the rest of us?
There are better choices than what family suggests. There are better choices than society suggests. There are better choices than politicians impose. There are better choices than consumerism. There are better choices than fame and fortune. Who knows what your road is to be in life? Who knows where that final destination may lead? The fulfillment in your heart and the impact you have in this world — in positive ways — will be all the riches you need to acquire. You’ll have passion, you’ll experience fulfillment, you’ll develop loving relationships, and you’ll be bringing your truest, brightest light to shine in the world.
Can you see what I mean? Can you see what Jesus meant?