~ Mother Meera
Not Religious but Radical (really)!
By S. L. Brannon
Is modern Christianity missing the intended “messages” in Christ’s life and ministry? Before exploring the issue that holds such importance for me, I must note that when I question Christianity, I do so with a respectful and reverent heart. Much like William F. Buckley’s Nearer, My God, my book The Two Agreements honors the religious tradition of my childhood. That said, I sincerely believe that Christianity misses the mark, largely due to a misplaced focus on the “sender”, rather than the “receiver”, of those messages, as well as their historical context. As a result, the popular interpretation of the Gospel message holds people in the shadows and distracts them from the good news messages Jesus taught to bring the people of His day into the Kingdom. Christ’s messages were a help in relating to God. The modern
popular interpretation, however, is a hindrance.
What is the popular interpretation of the Gospel? Most of us are familiar with it, whether we are churchgoers or not. Known by many as “The Greatest Story Ever Told”, it depicts an angry, vengeful God, so fed up with His own creation that He holds it in condemnation. As an act of mercy, He sends His son Jesus to live among humankind, knowing all along that Jesus would die for our sins. According to this interpretation, Jesus could have stopped the crucifixion at any time, but instead He sacrificed Himself to save people from
eternal damnation. Humankind is seen as inherently sinful, but after Jesus’ death and resurrection, we were given a choice to believe in this story or not. If we are believers, then we are saved; if not, we are damned, forever excluded from God and His Kingdom. This has been the script from which much of the world
has operated for the past two thousand years.
In reality, the story is not as straightforward, or as accessible, as the interpretation implies. This is due largely to the pressure that Christianity was under to present a single, perfect message to one audience. The result of this pressure has been to ignore certain inconsistencies. For ages, Bible scholars have noted the differing records of Jesus’ life and his messages of how to live in right standing with God. Specifically, they pointed out that while Jesus’ teachings focused on obeying commandments, Paul taught that one needed to exercise faith in the death and resurrection of Jesus. Furthermore, a small book entitled James seems to counter Paul by requiring people to do good works in order to satisfy God. One is left wondering what the true message might be. However, what if each of them is correct in their message? In fact, that is the case. There are differing messages, each correct and each directed at a different audience.
Let’s look at the historical context. Jesus’ arrival changed everything. His conception and birth began a time of transition, a transition from the first (old) covenant to the second (new) covenant. The popular interpretation attempts to freeze time—and humanity—in that transition period. However, in so doing, it attempts to return people never enslaved back into slavery (servants to a Lord). Of course, this is impossible, yet millions of Christians have been persuaded that they are servants to an angry, tyrannical God, destined to a life of condemnation and damnation. Each time the gospel is presented in a way that encourages or demands that one submit to the mindset of those souls born under Jewish law, a horrible injustice is done to the hearers. Those receptive individuals that accept this premise are subject to feelings of fear, guilt, and shame, and are therefore easily manipulated. How sad, for the good news declares a freedom to life, love, and liberty, to bask in eternal grace!
My reinterpretation of that popular interpretation seeks to clear up the confusion. he problem with our most popular understanding of the messages of Jesus does not have anything to do with the messages. Instead, one must look at the audiences He taught. A clue that there was something special about the masses listening to Him is in the phrase that is repeated again and again, “let those who have ears to hear . . .”
His reason for repeating the phrase was because it was something of a prayer for those listening to get the message that was specifically intended for them. It is important to note that Jesus also taught in parables for the same reason, to give the lessons in a form that each audience needed at that particular time.
Why is it so important to know the audience in order to unravel the seemingly mixed messages of Jesus and the apostles? It is important because Jesus taught three groups of “hearers” that comprised the masses of the original ordained church.
The first two groups I describe are well-known to Christians: the believers and the non-believers, both born under the old covenant. Jesus taught that there was a way for those born under that first covenant to be
“born-again”, meaning born into the second covenant. These original born-again Christians were the original ordained church. The non-believers remained under the teachings of Judaism, honoring the old covenant relationship into which they were born.
Now, to understand the remaining audience Jesus was speaking to, one must first understand that those born in the time of Noah, up until the time of Christ, were born into the first covenant with the Lord God, locked in by birth. This was the harsher God depicted in the Old Testament. The children who were conceived at the same time that Mary conceived, however, were born into the second covenant of unconditional love and Grace that remains in effect today. Jesus taught them messages of their being children of God and of their oneness with the Father God. They did not need to be “born-again” in order to enter the new covenant for they were naturally born into it.
As long as Christianity chooses to ignore the error of its interpretation, its members are destined to live with blinders on. They must selectively read and interpret chosen parts of the story in order to hold the “fidelity” they believe is there. All the while, innocent people are accepting a role (as a lost soul) they never held as free spirits in a kingdom of unconditional love and Divine grace. These innocent people are those of us born into Grace, never to know the stinging judgment of the Holy One.
In the second covenant, we live by free will in a life of our own choosing. By free will, we can live as people subject to the Jewish laws, as people of the transition period born-again into the church, and as people born
under Grace as children of God the Father. The choice is ours. In the reinterpretation, I encourage the readers to enter the Silence and become still in order that “the still small voice” rises above the noise. The
Holy Spirit is available to teach us all things beyond the bible theme and Gospel. “Let those who have ears to hear . .