True Christianity means living as if you were one of the twelve apostles.” — Soren Kierkegaard

Shortly after the Prophet Mohammed died, his followers split into two groups, now called, Shia and Sunni, The argument was over who was most qualified to lead– the direct descendants of the Prophet, or those elders who had been with the Prophet and knew best his teachings, or at least assumed they knew best. We see the bloody results of this ancient split on our nightly news.

Curiously, Christianity has likewise broken into two primarily different views of Jesus’  teaching (though of course there are literally millions of splinters and tributaries and amendments to these two basically different views.) By far the largest group of Christians view Jesus as the Redeemer, the God-son who died for their (our) sins. This group of Christians believe they are “redeemed” by his (His) blood. As the Episcopal Bishop John Shelby Spong lucidly documents, this popular (and some would suggest, somewhat lazy) view of the work Jesus came to do evolved after the crucifixion and within the Jewish community itself over a period of several hundred years. This understanding of Jesus as the redeemer is founded on the old Jewish sacrificial rituals, and most particularly Yom Kippur, or day of Atonement.  They put forth this view of Jesus and his work (His work) in order for them to better understand this God-Man Jesus who walked among us.

The other branch of Christian theology recognizes Jesus as The Way Shower, the “most mature” (and thus most divine, most real) of all human beings. According to this understanding, the most important thing about Jesus is that he (He) recognized “I and the Father are One, when you see me, you see Him.” Because he (He) recognized his true identity as one with the Father, he saw Prosperity (so to speak) wherever he looked. Through such seeing he was able to heal the sick, minister to the poor, redeem the broken hearted, even raise the dead. Jesus went on to insist, “The things I do, you shall do likewise.” Apparently, when we recognize our own true identity, we have the Christ working through us.Obviously,  around the world many millions of Christians are deeply enmeshed in the first understanding– of Jesus the Redeemer– who nevertheless also adhere to Jesus the Way Shower. Through their daily lives and deeds these millions of good-hearted people bring heaven to earth, just as Jesus did, in whatever way is appropriate for them in the moment. They dedicate their lives to the  working out of love and compassion.  Let’s hear it for such good Christians!!

One of my favorite and most revealing stories in the New Testament is when Jesus was in the garden, right before the goons came to take him away. His guys– his crew–asked him, “What’s this all about? What the hell are you up to?” (Or words to that effect.) Jesus replied, “I have come that my joy might be in you, and that your joy might be full.”  (John 15-11) Come to find out, the Dali Lama and Jesus agree that joy is the key — the basic method to understanding reality!

“Love God (enjoy God) with all your heart and soul and mind” (if love doesn’t mean enjoy, who needs it?), and love (enjoy) your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” — Jesus.

Enough. We’ll talk a lot more about this. Please tell me your thoughts . . .

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