God and Jesus for Me (inspired by a day with Bishop Spong in Tempe, Arizona)
What does the idea God mean to me? Is God beyond religion? Have I created God in my own image?
A theistic God is one that answers my prayers, fills my needs. It is a god that athletes use to succeed, that politicians use to sanction their actions.
How do I escape the boundaries of religion, to get a sense of True God?
If my prayers are not answered, if my needs are not met, Is my god immoral? impotent? uncaring?
How do I find a way to move beyond my human view of God, beyond Theism?
In the 3.8 billion years of life on earth, my family of humans appeared only 250,000 years ago (though human-like creatures roamed the earth beginning 4 million years ago)
The gift/burden we’ve been given is self-consciousness. No creatures before us were ever-self conscious. None had an idea of the past; None had thoughts of the future; None asked about their purpose in life.
No creatures before us thought about their death.
All simply lived as part of creation, connected to all. None felt alone or separate from or unique in Creation.
None experienced the anxiety of self-consciousness, the anxiety of living and knowing I am going to die.
None wondered as I do, Why I’m here.
I, as all humans, live in the trauma of self-consciousness and that takes Courage.
Have I used religion to Cope with this anxiety? Religion seems a coping mechanism for us humans with self-consciousness. Has my religion enabled me to cope with the human anxiety of knowing I am to die? Has religion helped me find purpose in life beyond myself?
Human beings throughout our history seemed to have created religion(s) to serve our needs, to help us cope. Religion seems to be a human creation to manipulate God.
We’ve used ancient ideas of a Spirit World just beyond us, gods and goddesses of fertility as well as male gods who would judge and defeat our enemies while protecting us.
The gods we’ve created to serve our needs generally have been viewed as External, Invisible, Available, All-powerful, Needy of our praise, Needing to be pleased, Helpful.
The gods we have created are Everywhere (omnipresent,) All-powerful (omnipotent,) All-knowing (omniscient,) Eternal (infinite,)
All we are NOT.
They help us to Cope! God gives us purpose helps ease our anxiety.
I have grown up with a God (as has much of humanity) that needed to be PROPERLY worshiped, and that needed for me to fulfill God’s Will for me (purpose.)
I have grown up (as has much of humanity) trying to win God’s approval by flattery, putting myself down as a wretched sinner, and following what I thought was God’s Will for me.
The God of my creation, the God of human creation, the God of mankind’s religions is a Consciousness SEPARATE from me.
I think it’s time I grow up.
I don’t need to be born again, I need to Mature.
The security found in religious fundamentalism is an escape from reality.
I need to mature in it, not escape from it.
I am a part of God and always have been. I am a part of a God of Universal Consciousness, part of One single Unfolding Whole.
A touch of the Divine is in me.
I do not have a relationship with God, I AM a relationship OF God.
God is the source of all life flowing through the universe of which I am a part.
A religion must allow that Divinity within me to grow.
I sense that worshiping God entails Living Life Fully Awake, Aware, Alive, in the Precious Present Moment, by Loving All Constantly, and by striving to be Who God Created Me to Be.
There seems to be many pathways to God, with mine being the Experiences of my own life.
The Divine Call seems not to make me religious, but instead, to help me be Fully Human.
I cannot glorify God by denigrating myself, my humanity. I am not wretched;
I am a beautiful Creation of God.
I do not want a religion that removes the anxiety of self-consciousness which is reality. I want a religion that gives me the Courage to embrace reality.
Each religion seems like a well seeking the Living Waters of the Divine. Each is different, but if they go deep enough, they tap into the same Universal Source Water of Life.
So how does my idea of Jesus fit into this non-theistic view of the Divine?
Jesus seemed to worship God by being fully aware, awake, alive in the present moment, by loving all constantly, (even those nailing him to the cross) and by having the courage to be Who He was created to be.
I know we really cannot talk about God adequately. God defies human description. We can only really talk about Our Experiences of God.
Our experiences in life live on, but our perceptions and explanations of life’s experiences can change.
An epileptic seizure was explained Biblically in a way far different than it is today.
The New Testament is not one book; It is 27 different books written during the period from 50 to 135 AD, at least 21 years after Jesus’ death. They were not all written at the same time.
Paul’s was the first, written around the years 51-64 AD. He said, God was in Christ. (Explanations of that abound.) Paul said God is in Christ at Resurrection.
Mark’s book (70-72 AD) describes God descending on Jesus at his Baptism in the Jordan. Jesus Humanity was not Compromised. It was an ecstatic experience.
Mark knew nothing of a Virgin Birth.
(Jesus’ mother and her 4 sons and 2 daughters thought Jesus was out of his mind.)
Mark writes of a risen Jesus appearing to no one. Jesus was raised into a Life in God.
Mark was the first ever to ascribe miracles to Jesus. There was no writing or evidence of miracles before Mark, not in the gospel of Thomas or the Q writings. Miracles were not original to the Jesus story.
Mark seems to have wrapped the miracle stories of Moses, Elijah, and Elisha around Jesus using Isaiah’s the blind will see, the deaf will hear, etc.
In the 9th Decade AD, Matthew tells the Virgin Birth Story. Surprisingly, his long intro genealogy includes four (4) women—unheard of!
Women were non-entities of the time, simple containers for men’s seeds. Why were women included in Matthew’s genealogy?
Even more surprising is that all four women were sexually compromised.
Was Matthew trying to respond to rumors that Jesus may have been illegitimate? Was he trying to show that God works among us even through our misdeeds? Was the Virgin Birth story created to protect Jesus’ reputation?
Where did Isaiah prophecy a Virgin Birth?
Even Later, Luke changed the wise-men, magi into shepherds. He changed the star at Bethlehem into an angelic host. Luke takes Joseph out of the picture and emphasizes Mary. (Joseph being told by an angel in a dream is lost in favor of Mary being told directly.)
Luke adds Jesus’ appearances after resurrection, walking, talking, eating, teaching, having his flesh felt to prove his resurrection.
Luke adds the Ascension story lest Jesus be walking the earth forever. (Paul had no knowledge of an Ascension, spoke of Transformation.)
Finally, John, 60 years after the death of Jesus, dismisses the Virgin Birth Story and writes that God enters Jesus from Eternity, from Creation, The Word Enfleshed.
The Council of Nicea 325 AD resolved the dispute about Jesus’ Divinity by proclaiming Him Human AND Divine leaving little room for Jesus’ Humanity in our thinking of Him.
On the cross, Mark and Matthew’s Jesus seems very Human, My God, My God, Why have You forsaken me?
Luke’s Jesus seems a little more Divine, Into Your hands, I commend my Spirit.
John’s Jesus, seems fully Divine from the cross, It is finished (the work of the new creation.)
Jesus experiences were Real. The experiences of those who encountered Jesus were Real.
The explanations and perceptions of those experiences changed over time and are changing over time.
In the 4th century AD, Augustine proclaimed that humans were infected with sin and that the gates of heaven were closed to us, opened by Jesus’ death on the cross and that since salvation can only come from God, Jesus is God.
To this day, liturgies in many religions are re-enactments of the crucifixion of Jesus, a Sacrifice of the Mass.
I cannot really believe in an all-loving God who demands a human sacrifice to appease God? Guilt pervades all bad theology. Adherents go through life feeling responsible for the death of Jesus.
Scripture has been used to defend the divine right of kings, unsuccessfully; to defend slavery, unsuccessfully; to defend discrimination of women, unsuccessfully; to defend discrimination of gays, unsuccessfully.
I am not responsible for Jesus death! I do not have to live my life in unworthiness and Guilt. Hierarchists have tried to control me by telling me How I must Worship My Creator.
I reject the terms redeemer, savior; I am not wretched! I am worthy to receive Him.
Jesus showed me how to love myself enough to become Truly Loving.
Jesus was fully alive, awake, aware in the present moment; Jesus was totally Loving of all; Jesus was free to be Who He was created to be; He was Free to give his life away; Jesus brought God to all with whom He connected.
Nothing I can do will remove God’s Love of me. Nothing I can do will increase God’s love of me.
Jesus demonstrated that Love. Humanity has been set free!
As shown in the Acts of the Apostles, the Holy Spirit descending on people does not make them religious; It sets them Free to spread the Word to the four corners of the earth.
Human Life could not birth the God-Experience of Jesus. Jesus introduced us to The God Experience.
I need to recover that Experience and in the process bring God to all with whom I connect.
I vow to bear witness to My Truth staying open to other ideas while being willing to change. I wish to share my pearls of Wisdom with others while being gifted with their pearls of Wisdom.
If horses had a god, t’would be a horse. How can a horse envision more? How can I envision God as God?
I must move beyond the god created by religions in my image.