Wednesday, April 11, 2007

what is god? what is jesus? and is it loop 360, or capital of texas highway, or ben white?

for those of you who aren't familiar with austin, you won't know that the last questions in this title is a great joke. lots of streets in austin have two or three names. it's weird.
anyway, a dear friend emailed me and said, look, i don't know anything about the bible, but i'm learning at journey, and what i do know is that i love god and love serving god and other people. my thought, of course, is that that's all there is, and knowing stuff about the bible isn't important in the least. but he also asked about what god is, and what jesus is, and what the deal is with their relationship. i think that's a really fair question, so i responded. here's part of my response. a lot of it is unorthodox, but hey, this is what i told him because it made sense to say it this way, and it's what's in my heart. and, i know it's too long, but i just needed to say it.

There’s a Presence that animates, breathes into, and loves the universe. It’s mysterious. It’s big. I mean, really big. People have tried to understand this Presence, this Animating Force. But It’s Too Big. (I’m using capital letters just because It’s So Big. But It doesn’t mind if I use capital letters, so I’m going to stop now because it’s too much trouble.) Anyway, this presence, force, whatever, is best known in love. Love is what holds the universe together. I don’t mean romantic love, although that’s a tiny little taste of what it’s like. It’s like looking at nature, or at your children, or what a great meal feels like. It’s like rain. It’s like safety. I believe that’s what the nature of the universe is. People get hurt, are vulnerable, are afraid, whatever, and that disconnects us from this force of love. We forget that that’s our basic nature. And it is. I absolutely believe that. This love that holds the universe together – literally, physically, molecular level, personally, whatever, all of the above and lots more – is about healing and reconciliation. We human beings are only a small part of that large, infinitely huge force that’s ever-creating, ever-remaking, ever-changing, and yet not changing at all. But we matter. Everything matters. Everything belongs.
We human beings aren’t aware of how beautiful it is, because we can only see a small part of it. We tend to focus on what we feel or think, and that’s okay too, since that’s who we are. But it’s a huge mistake – or maybe just a misunderstanding, an illusion – to think that God is made in our image, that God’s whole work is the earth, and human beings. I mean, just look at the beauty and complexity and weirdness and wonderfulness of the natural world! We’re only a part of it. if God were only as big as us, we’d be screwed. I’m banking on God being much bigger than that.
And then comes Jesus. I don’t know what the hell was up with that man. I don’t know how it worked. But something slipped out, beyond, into the Big Thing, with this guy. He came at it from his cultural perspective, too, but he got something. He saw it. “The heavens opened and he saw, and he heard God’s voice” the baptism story says. Jesus saw it, heard it, experienced it down in some deep place that altered his personal universe. He got it. It started flowing through him. He couldn’t help himself; he had to tell everybody about it. He had to act on its being true – because it was deeply, powerfully true for him. Its power flowed through him. He could do things with the physical universe that didn’t make sense to other human beings – I’m not sure they even made sense to him all the time – but he let it flow. And he just gave it away. all over the place.

He was very pissed off at the institutions of his time that restricted love, that kept people from seeing and experiencing God as he had, that held God in a box. So he took them on. He was terrified, but he did it anyway. They killed him.And then he came back to life. I have no fucking idea how that worked. But it worked. He understood his scriptures to say that the messiah would die and come back to life, and damned if it didn’t sure enough happen. And then he disappeared, flowed out of this plane of existence and reunited with the big thing. He explained that that’s really who and what we all are, that that’s what It Is. And he said, Okay, go tell people about this. Enact it. Act as if it were true. Because it is.
And the word spread. And people got infected with it. And they talked about it. The physical universe was altered when they let it flow through them.
When they tried to understand it, they said, When we experienced what was happening in Jesus, and with us, it was God.
So that’s where the idea came along that Jesus was in some sense, somehow, some mysterious way, the presence of this force of love in that human moment. I believe that. I believe that God was flowing through Jesus and Jesus in some mysterious way was God. I don't understand it.
And then this group of people and how they saw the universe spread through the Roman Empire, and soon there were so many Christians that, despite periodic efforts of the Roman powers that be to get rid of them, they couldn't be stopped, and the powers that be decided that they should join 'em rather than fight 'em. And Christianity became the accepted religious view of the world. And then it went to shit. Because it became religion, and politics, and architecture, and law.
Jesus wept.
there are, and have always been, moments when individual people or little groups of people see it, experience it, get it, feel it. They tap into it. Its power flows through them. And the world is healed, healthier, whole, even a little bit, even just here and there. This is NOT CONTAINED IN RELIGION, certainly not contained in Christianity and certainly not in one denomination or group or church. It’s far too big for that. far too big.
What’s Jesus? There’s the guy, the teacher, the miracle-worker. There’s the thing Jesus came to mean to millions of people in thousands of cultural contexts and ages and countries and languages. Some of that is what It Was About. Some of it is shit we invented because we can't see clearly. The Spirit of God works in all of it, whenever it can get a word in edgewise.
That’s it. At least, that’s how I understand it.


nonprofitprophet said...

good gosh - it is a bit unorthodox isn't it. I'm just thinking of all the flak you'll get in this! lol You should write an "Idiots guide to Christianity" or cliff notes or whatever... Beautiful writing however. ~npp

The "other" Rick said...

Hi Bro,

Man, you got it SO right. I absolutely LUV the way you express the unexpressible, how we are all wrapped up in the Mystery we call GOD, yet most of us are totally blind to His/Her existence. And trying to explain what Jesus the CHRIST was/is all about is like trying to catch the wind.

You know, it might help to go into the whole meaning of CHRIST, as opposed to Jesus the man, and what it means to be the "Christed One", and how he tried to teach us that we could/can become CHRISTED, and become just like Him.

That's who we all are, anyway, a perfect Child of God, we just don't remember (RE-MEMBER) how to see that in ourselves, and work from that perspective/perception. Once we do, and start to see the same in everyone else, then the "false ego" (the one we developed out of the fear of not being loved, of not having enough, in order to survive....not LIVE, merely survive) disappears, and the True Self, the "God Force" begins to shine forth, and we become Christ-like in all we think, say, and do (see the Trinity there...thought, word, and action...Father, Son and Holy Spirit...Body, Mind and Soul); because in the absence of fear all that's left is Love=God=Life=Joy=Change=Evolution=Truth, which shall set you free. No brag, just fact.

Namaste, my friend.