The Jesus Christ I believe in is a man who loved God. I believe he loved his mother and his family, the brotherhood and his fellow man. I believe he encouraged his disciples to do the same. I do not believe Christ encouraged anyone to forsake the love of his own mother or of his own family for his sake, nor do I believe he promoted bigotry or hatred, or advocated anyone to hurt, harm or oppress another in his name.
No true Christian will misunderstand or be confused by verses in the bible relating love for Christ with love for others. Love is not a mutually exclusive emotion. It is not a “yes/no” or “on/off” switch, nor should it be an “either/or” or “instead of” proposition. You can love your spouse and love your children, you can love your mother and love Christ and God. You can love “the church” and you can love your family. You can love by degrees. That you should love God and Christ more, should not be in binary conflict with your love for others. It’s not an excuse to disregard. Your love for others will in fact be REPRESENTATIVE of your love for God and Christ. To love the least of God’s creations, is to love the most as well.
Yet, there are those who will have you think otherwise, teaching of another Jesus, a spiteful, fear mongering one, judging not by how well you can love, but by how well you can hate on his behalf. The savage wolves did not leave, but instead lingered and waited. That one should invoke Christ’s name as JUSTIFICATION for mistreating anyone? An utter, abysmal shame, but not a surprise, since people have been murdering, pillaging and plundering for millennia all in the name of religion; I suspect, given how advantageous and self-gratifying via delusion it can all seem, humanity will continue to do so as long as it exists. But I am certain Christ will have the same response to them, as he will to those who claim to perform miracles and wonders in his name.
I’ve always believed, and still do, that the church belongs to Christ. It’s a reassuring and finely nuanced thought, but one that has shifted ever so slightly, especially in recent years, to the thought that Christ now belongs solely to the Church, an usurpation that leaves outsiders cold and rudderless (after all, the doctrine has become so dynamic). It appears that gone is the understanding that those outside may be saved, a grace from God and His final decision alone, but now those, and only those presently registered will be the only ones to receive salvation. The message has become Join Us, Or Be Damned. Well, OK then. No need for Eeny-Meeny-Miney-Mo, just sign us up.
And because the grace from God has been appropriated, there is then this “noble chivalry” to save the planet from destruction. Hence this world-wide propagation effort to save Africa, to save Mexico, to save Scenic, to save Zambia, to save All of Mankind! Religious Masters Of The Universe. He-Men. Captain Planet with thumbprint insignia emblazoned on our chests.
For myself, it’s ALL a grace from God. If you come to the knowledge of the truth, great. If not, oh well, I’ll love you just the same. And that, for me, has been the essence of what Christ stood for. Not a self-seeking, sanctimonious selfishness for one’s own salvation, but a selfless regard and sacrifice for others. A religion is not about labels and compartmentalizing us. It’s not about building walls, spiritual or psychological (or even, in some cases, physical). It’s not Us vs. Them. Christ didn’t die so people could be more ignorant and more intolerant of others. He didn’t die so people could play fools. Yes, He died for His body, and hopefully His body will do right by Him in standing up for what is true and what is good.
Although I no longer observe religious holidays in any traditional or formal sense, I likewise don’t chastise anyone who does. I, too, was once a 7-year old boy, happy to open gifts under a lighted tree, or decorate eggs, so I can’t blame anyone for continuing on with that tradition, misguided or otherwise. Being more enlightened isn’t entitlement to superiority. I believe Christ’s purpose was to foster more understanding, peace, and love amongst one another and humanity, not arrogance, division, and animosity.
So as many reflect on the life, death and resurrection of Christ, I hope ALL of mankind will allow peace, love and harmony to reign between yourselves, between families, and the world at large, to truly embrace what being a Christian means. It’s not rote rituals, but deep reflection. Godspeed everyone.