Recently, I was asked what I believe regarding Christianity. This question was a direct result of my previous post, “Did Jesus say love your enemies?” She also added: “I still serve God, but I get off track, but I try to stay on the straight and narrow. I know we have to lay down the flesh, but that’s hard. So if we have these things still in the flesh, which we can’t overcome, are we not going to heaven?”
This was my response:
Nothing, not even you, can keep you from your inheritance; you might delay it for some time, but it is always yours, and nothing or anyone can steal it from you. It’s what’s called an unalienable right, granted from your Creator. But even then, Einstein said time isn’t real; it’s a man-made concept, relevant only to this planet. There is no linear time in eternity that’s why Jesus said, “You’ll be with me today in paradise.” How can that be when He was in hell for three days and hanging out with the disciples for 40 days? So the idea of someone dying first and waiting for someone else to show up in Heaven is absurd. You’re already there.
A few months ago I posted a link to “Hope beyond hell” if you haven’t read that free download, please take the time. It’s loaded with scriptures convincing the reader that God is not just waiting for you to screw up so he can beat you over the head. I promise, you will feel that burden of condemnation lift off your shoulders, and you can love God and keep trying your best without feeling all the guilt, shame, and condemnation, which the church has implemented as a means of control.
It’s difficult to believe, but that garbage has been programmed into us for thousands of years as a means of coercing us into behaving as they see fit. Think about how programmed it is into our brains as you convince your children to do the right thing. Do we use rational reasoning with them or do we use simple manipulations? Listen to the words of this song as you consider it: “He’s making a list, checking it twice; he’s going to find out who’s naughty or nice. He sees you when your sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.” It’s conditional love. If you act accordingly you’ll get presents.
I am fully convinced Europeans came here to escape the stranglehold of the church – not just Catholicism but the Reformers as well. Don’t let them fool you; they were just as murderous as the Catholics. Google “Calvin burned Servetus” sometime and read how this “great man of God,” who started the Calvinist movement, slow roasted Servetus alive. Both men were dissenters against the “only true church of God” but didn’t agree on everything, so naturally, one had to kill the other – the equivalent of a Baptist murdering a non-denominational believer, or vise-versa. Religious people willing to kill others for the simple crime of having differing beliefs about the founder of their religions, yet never willing to truly live by those beliefs is simply ludicrous to me.
So what do I believe? I believe much more than I can convey in this initial discourse, but here goes: If you read the first three Gospels with a discerning eye, you’ll find they are very similar. You’ll also discover they extensively contradict John’s gospel, as well as the Christianity Paul molded to fit his Jewish beliefs.
In those first three gospels, Jesus never answers the question “what must I do to be saved” with the typical “believe in me” answer found in John. We are to be striving for perfection as our Father in heaven is perfect (Matt 5:48), but we are not supposed to beat ourselves up over our failures either. We are primarily called to love and forgive people. I love how Jesus summed it all up by saying, “You can throw the entire Bible in the trash if you just love God and love people” (Matt 22:37, Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27, I’m paraphrasing of course) – ending his point with “there is no commandment greater than these.” (Note: this concept can NOT be found in the gospel of John)
So one can argue that we’re called to preach the gospel, but which is a greater testament to the teachings of Jesus: yelling condemnations through a bullhorn of how God hates fags, and they’re going to hell, or by forgiving and loving them?
Therefore, I believe a person ‘living in sin’ yet maintaining love and forgiveness towards their fellow humans is closer to Jesus than some self-righteous, God fearing, church going Christian, who never even cusses, yet harbors hate and un-forgivingness in his heart.
OK, this is why it is crucial for us to practice forgiveness, and why Jesus blatantly said God won’t forgive you, unless you forgive others – even going as far as implying in Matt 18 that we’ll pay for our sins, unless we forgive our brothers from our hearts. Wait, I thought the blood of Jesus was for that?
Read the prodigal son again, (Luke 15:11-32) as taught by Jesus himself, and ask yourself: “If this is an example of God and His feelings towards His wayward people, where’s the angry, jealous, murdering God, we are taught to incessantly fear, Who can’t even look at us until we pass through the blood of Jesus?” There’s none of it in this story. Let’s analyze it, with some paraphrasing:
Jesus continued: “There was a man who had two sons. The younger one said to his father, ‘Father, give me my share of the estate.’ So he divided his property between them.
“He set off for a distant country and squandered his wealth in wild living. After he had spent everything, there was a severe famine in that whole country, and he began to be in need. So he went and hired himself out to a citizen of that country, who sent him to his fields to feed pigs. He longed to fill his stomach with the pods that the pigs were eating, but no one gave him anything.
“When he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have food to spare, and here I am starving to death! I will set out and go back to my father and say to him: Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me like one of your hired men.’ So he got up and went to his father.
(We make ourselves feel unworthy. It’s not the devil and certainly not an unconditionally loving God that manipulates our feelings. However, there is nothing we can do to stop us from being what we’ve always been – a child of God, as we shall soon discover in the rest of Jesus’ lesson.)
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.
(The Father is filled with compassion for us, not rage or jealousy. And notice there was no need of a mediator to intercede between the son and the father.)
“The son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
(No groveling and no period of proving our worthiness, we are immediately brought back into our rightful position.)
“Meanwhile, as the older son came near the house, he heard music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’
“The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’
(There will always be that self-righteous hypocrite who thinks he is holier than tho. How does he know what his brother squandered his inheritance on? Sounds like projection to me. He’s projecting exactly what he knows he would do if he ever had the nerve to leave.)
“‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’”
How does the father handle it? Does he say, “Well, I love him, but I’ll sit here with my back to him, and I won’t forgive him until he bathes in the blood and begs for my forgiveness?” He actually rushes out to meet him, no rituals, no kneeling, no groveling; the Father immediately restores him to his original place of prestige. Would the church do that for you if you came back six months later?
Would you like to know how the church handled it in the first few centuries of the Christian era? You stayed outside the church, begging your Christian siblings to pray for God to forgive you – some stood outside the door uninvited for years. When you had finally paid your penance you could come in; however, you were not yet completely restored to grace. You, and all the other sinners, had a special place to sit for another undisclosed period of time. That way when the preacher mentioned your particular sin, we all knew right where to cast our condescending glances. What a great time to be a Christian.
Jesus states in Matthew 18:21-35:
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
“Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talentswas brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.
“The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.
“But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.
“His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’
“But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.
“This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”
(Note: It doesn’t say this is how the Father will treat you unless you are washed in the blood.)
So why are love and forgiveness so important in our spiritual practice? In psychology, it’s called projection. Jesus said, “Give and it will be given to you” – “judge others, and you will be judged with the same harshness” – “withhold forgiveness and it shall be withheld from you” – “forgive others and God will forgive you.” Now, it’s important for you to understand God is unconditional love, which means, “I love you, no matter what you do” and I assure you, Jesus never said, “if you love me, you’ll keep my commandments” or “God will love you if you love me” as interpolated six times at the end of the Gospel of John. Because this completely contradicts the theory of unconditional love that Jesus was teaching.
God is not like a little kid saying, “I won’t forgive you, until you forgive my spoiled brat child, so and so, your brother.” It’s our skewed perception that makes us think God acts this way – because we have projected all our humanness back on God. For example: God does not have jealousy issues.
It’s that we believe we are unworthy to accept God’s love and forgiveness – and that’s true, if we withhold it from our brothers and sisters. However, it’s always right there just waiting for us to accept it; and when we do offer forgiveness to our brothers we’ll find, curiously enough, that we do feel a little more worthy of receiving it.
The most beautiful release I ever experienced was when I put everyone I know on a stage with cords connecting them to me in my mind. Then, one by one, I spoke to each person, forgave them, and I cut the cord releasing them back to the Holy Spirit.
A refreshing experience I highly recommend. I hold no grievances, hate, or un-forgiveness towards anyone, and now I absolutely love all my fellow humans. I make mistakes all the time. That’s precisely why I’m constantly on the lookout for someone to love and forgive, that way when I mess up, I can actually feel God’s forgiveness flowing through my life like “pay it forward.” I don’t have to beg and plead; God forgives me as I forgive those who sin against me as Jesus taught us. It’s very, very simple.
One more note on projection: I can determine the kind of a God a person serves based on how they treat others. I also know exactly how they treat themselves as well. If they are always down on people, judging them and condemning them, I know they are very hard on themselves, and in constant fear of a time when their God is going to sneak up and catch them doing their secret sin. For no man knoweth the hour.
Think about how often you hear of a preacher adamantly attacking homosexuals, only to be caught in the very act he supposedly despised. People think what a hypocrite, or he was deflecting everyone’s attention from his sinful life, but the truth is its projection. They were fighting their own sins; they were just doing it on the wrong battlefield. If they had loved and forgave those homosexuals, they could’ve loved themselves through it as well. And then maybe they could’ve felt as though they served a more compassionate, understanding God. If that were the case, perhaps they might’ve felt comfortable enough to talk with God about their “sins” and asked Him for the strength to overcome them. But rather, they insisted the answer lied in attacking and abolishing the temptation.
My final thought:
We either pursue the teachings of Jesus or the teachings of Christianity.