Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Mind of God Part 6: Jesus the Man

The Mind of God Part 6: Jesus the Man

To begin, I'd like to say that this is the last part of this series. It concludes the individual pieces of the whole of the exploration into the Mind of God. To all those who have been reading this each week, you are incredible and I Love you with all my heart. It takes a special kind of person to give a regular guy like me the time of day to share his thoughts with you, especially his thoughts on a subject such as this, and you've given me the time. Bless your buttons. So here I have saved the best piece for last. I'd like to tell you about a guy I know...

For some time now I've studied about Jesus. Since I was a kid I was brought up in Church and decided I wouldn't make the decision to be baptized until I was ready, and until all the apparent mysteries made sense to me.

Then I continued to grow and all of those understandings molded and morphed (as they continue to do and will do until my dying day) into a number of things. Most prominently now, from which I can never return, is the idea of studying and appreciating Jesus as a man and not as God.

To many, I have just uttered the gravest of blasphemies. For most Christians, there is little separation between Jesus and his Father, that they are separate but at the same time one, and that they belong to a trinity of power, the Holy Spirit being the essence of God, originating from God and entering into Mary in order to impregnate her as a virgin with child, who would be born of the Holy Spirit and grow up to become Jesus the Christ. So, because of all this, Jesus is of God's essence, he is technically God himself, yet he remains also part man, his own individual.

That's being very brief, but to those of you unfamiliar with it all, hopefully that puts things in some sort of simple context. The reason for my spending a piece specifically on Jesus is because, I can say, without reservation, that he is my best friend. I believe in him and in his ability to change the world, but doing it not by being God, but by being a normal man.

The question I raise here, that is so essential, is the crux of this entire series on the Mind of God, is what if Jesus was not divine at all? What if Jesus was just a guy? What if Mary and Joseph conceived a child together, naturally, and he was born as any other child is, not in a manger or under a star or with the gifts of the Magi? What if no voice of God every spoke aloud announcing "This is my son, whom I love, and with whom  am pleased"? What if Jesus was a man who decided that the only way to change the world was one person at a time, through deeds and examples, not by walking on water or bringing dead back to life, but by loving everyone he met with all of his heart, without hiccup or hesitation? What if, in what he was capable of doing, he was no different from you and I?

I think the reason there is so much hostility toward Christians today is because, honestly, a lot of them forgot who Jesus really is. There is ample historical proof that Jesus existed as a man, the biggest unproveable mystery is, was he divine? Though a lot of people doubt that he even existed, the Bible is credible proof that he did. Not in all it's magic and mysticism, but that accounts of this man were made by many people nearly 80 years after he died. Leaving that "magic and mysticism" aside, the Bible is a good historical document reflecting the times and the people and their ways of belief, and its mentioning and focusing on specific characters is cause, along with ample archeological evidence, to strongly suggest the existence of these important men. Again, they existed as physical human beings, but what is unproveable is the divine aspect of each of them, Jesus included.

And so it is perfect that the divinity is what we're going to set aside today. I think Christianity as we've come to know it is built too much on pure blind faith and little else, an unwillingness to accept scientific proof as explanation or to allow man the chance to acheive his or her own miracle or to do something great of our own volition, rather than chalk it all up to God and leave mankind devoid of significant acheivment. But I'm one who believes God and Science work hand in hand, that the more we explore scientifically, the more we are allowed inside the proverbial "Mind of God". Like I said, beyond the scope of our understanding and our ability to explore with science exists the never-understandable. The fact that the question "Why?" will always exist means that there will come a point when no human mind or scientific exploration can explain whatever it was that came before the creation of all existence. The big bang is not enough, zero point energy is not enough; if something exists then it had to come from somewhere. But where? And more importantly, why? We think the meaning of life is a daunting question, how about the meaning of...all of it?

In that vein, there is a new, or often unthought of, appreciation that can be found in the studying or observation of Jesus as a man rather than Jesus as a divine being or as Jesus the Christ. (Christ being the divine son of God.) My questions is that, if we are all connected to the base energy of Love that created all things, all connected to God, then technically we all share his spirit and in a way we are all, in a way, divine beings.

When I say there is a new appreciation to be had in studying Jesus as a man I mean that because there is a sort of courageousness and raw wonder at the idea that a man, not a God, would do what Jesus did regardless of his parental situation. Just think, if you are the divine son of God, and you are fated to sacrifice yourself as the savior of all mankind, then your life is without any other purpose. If Jesus was, as so many believe, fated to be this great sacrifice then I think his death is deprived, to a degree, of a certain uniqueness. If Jesus' life is God's ultimate plan with no room for budging, then Jesus is someone we cannot relate to. None of us can relate to God because we're only people. We can relate to God to an extent, to the best of our abilities, but if God is the energy that came before all things and over time gave way to the existence of humans, then obviously our relating to him runs dry at some point because understanding what and why God truly is, is like diving head first into the white hot understanding of the knowledge of the never-understandable. Thinking we can relate on all levels to God is like thinking we can launch ourselves into the sun, not get incinerated, understand first hand how it works, then return to earth and perfectly explain your experiences so it makes an equal amount of sense to every single person. In other words, it's not possible.

Because we are so naturally removed from God, yet connected on a basic level, if we accept the magical divinity of Jesus on the same principle as launching ourselves into the sun then our ability to explain him, his life, his deeds, and his sacrifice to others is impossible. The idea of divinity immediately disconnects people from Jesus because he doesn't appear to them as a man or as a relatable individual, he appears as a mystical, even fictional, half man half God who walks on water, brings dead people back to life, cures uncurable diseases, dies to prove a point, then brings himself back to life to remind you, and then floats away to heaven.

That sounds unbelievable and, honestly, a little crazy. But a most important point is that Jesus didn't walk around and look the way he looks in our current depictions, wearing white robes, washing his hair with high quality shampoo to give it that shine and volume and lustrous color, and he didn't walk around claiming to be the son of God, to be divine, and to be a prophet. If you study the words of Jesus (the book of Revelation aside, another MUCH later topic) you'll find that what he does and says is actually not crazy at all. In fact, his teachings are similar to so many pacifists that came before and after him that the best picture to paint of Jesus would be that he's just a nice, smart guy who "gets it". If the energy of Love that is God is a well that can be dipped into, Jesus not only knew where the well was, but he also knew how to get there, how to show it to people, and he brought several buckets with him that he used to collect its water and give it to the people. In the seventies terminology, Jesus was a switched on cat.

Now, if Jesus was driven fatefully by the hand of God, knowing all these things, it kind of reduces the specialness of him understanding all these things about God down to a 'big whoop'. If God just made it all happen because Jesus was magical and divine, then who cares? It's not so special because it's like he was cheating, right? He didn't do any work to discover any of this understanding, it was just given to him by God and he used his powers to prove to people he could do amazing things and that if they followed him they would have everlasting life. But again, God made it all happen, so Jesus just sort of lazily followed along the path God paved for him.

So ignore all his divinity for now. Today he is 100% human, and like all men and women he has the ability to make choices. As a man his life is not fate but free will. As a man he is not required to do anything but chooses to do things. As a man, through rigorous studying and observation he taught himself and learned all there was to know about how to be a good, honest, caring, loving person. God didn't tell him how to understand any of that, through Jesus' own power of choice he did it, he climbed that daunting theoretical mountain and when he looked down onto the world he thought, "Ah, I see it now." Jesus, in his dsire to understand what was out there, to understand the mind of God, found it. But he did so of his own will, of his own power. To me, that is so much more wonderful than blindly accepting his divinity and because of that, makes his sacrifice and all that he did in life so much more important.

There's a lot of history that goes into the Bible that people need to stop being so turned off by. If it turns you off, you've got to remember, these are not modern day men, these are the stories and retellings of information of men who lived thousands of years ago, told by men with no scientific (or little) way of understanding or explaining. Thus the best way to transpire events was as "miracles". So take it for what it is and break it down. I'm not saying that you should believe everything the Bible says, in fact you don't have to believe any of it if you wish (I take plenty of issues with it myself), what I'm saying is take it as you would these blog posts, as men sharing with the masses.

Pretend, here, that Jesus is your neighbor, your friend, the guy at work that everyone thinks is pretty swell, the guy who, even as much as you want to hate him for being so awesome, you just can't bring yourself to do it. And why? Because he's kind and he's true. Jesus journey began with him leaving his home and heading into a hostile world knowing that, should someone like he speak up and try to change the people's minds, try to teach them about Love of, rather than fear of, God that a lot of people will be upset. Jesus, from a young age showed incredible understanding of scriptures and of his Jewish religion, so much so that he shocked his own teachers and likely had them stumped. A lot of people like to point out the apparent contradictions of the Bible and Jesus was no different. His message is like saying, "Look, this God of fear, this wrathful, vengeful, spiteful being that you worship blindly isn't really who you think he is. He is Love. He wants you to love him, not to fear him." What Jesus did not set out to do was create Christianity. Jesus was devoutly Jewish. What he did mean to do, however, was the suggest a different way of perceiving God.

But as it goes with History, any who should speak out against the belief of the masses is surely eliminated. As they say, the nail that sticks out gets hammered in. Jesus stuck out. He was a master of rhetoric, an incredible public speaker, and a man whose knowledge of how to use language to illustrate his points was hardly limited. Using parables, stories, and examples of words only, Jesus illustated that our human nature leads us to do inherently animalistic things, like kill, cheat, steal, and lie. He acknowledged that fact and could not hold it against people because he knew that he himself was subject to the same flaws, the same nature, and capable of making the same mistakes. As opposed to floating through life like a Holy ghost, Jesus walked and climbed and traveled with his legs just like everyone else. As he even says, "I am here not to condemn the world, but to save it." Did he mean save it with his magical powers or save it by trying to lead by example that Love is the way to peace? That would be the latter.

When you look at all the miacles Jesus performs in the Bible, even bringing a dead man back to life, I think all of these pale in comparison to the miracle that Jesus simply had the guts to step out into a hostile world and do the things that many of us only think of doing. But he actually did them. He didn't simply make his donation to save the starving children and be done with it, he didn't just join a facebook group, or belong to a community, or write a book and stay at home. Jesus knew how to change the world and he got out there and he did it knowing full well what that the consequences for challenging both the Religious and Roman ruling establishments would lead to death. But if that was how it must end, he believed that perhaps his death would inspire people to rise up against corrupt Governments, against twisted Religions and systems. Though a lot of people may not think it, Jesus was, as the dictionary defines, just about as Liberal as one can get. He was a rebel and a man who hated nothing save for the thought that men would pursue discordance for selfish gains, to abuse and use the people of his country in order to rule over them, enslave them, and kill them for sport. He could not stand the fact that God was being abused by all of these men in order to justify their corrupt actions, that "God" was being portrayed as something he was not in order to control, in order to strike fear in the hearts of men. For Jesus, it did not get any more backward than this.

The reason a lot of people can say, "I think Jesus was a great man, but not divine" isn't such a character assassination as Christians might think. Consider how the miracles of Jesus came about. The central stories of the Bible that spell out the story of Jesus are the gospels, many of which were written nearly 80 years after his death. So it's not as if someone sat down right after the crucifixion and wrote the book. For almost a century, stories were passed around, by word of mouth, about Jesus until people decided to finally put it in writing. What happened in that time, as many speculate, is that the amazingness of Jesus reached levels beyond mere human. The way they talked about Jesus after his death was as if he was God, a divine being, the true son of God, and clearly someone so loving and wonderful, who did what he did could be nothing less. When people told their tales of the time they saw Jesus they would say, "I saw him! He walked on water, he cured the sick, he healed the blind, he brought the dead back to life!"

These are the things people would say about Jesus AFTER he died. That does not devoid them of meaning or importance but in fact it does the opposite. It suggests that Jesus was so amazing of a human being that the way people remembered him was that he could do and perform all these amazing feats, just to help people. What a guy Jesus must have been, that the way he is remembered posthumously is as miracle worker and as THE son of God. What an honor. Jesus did not ask for this or say it of himself, but the people were so affected by his life that he was remembered and spoken of as such. In life, Jesus was just a man, no different than you or I accept for his drive and his will to change the world through using Love as his example, and the way it changed people, the way it afected them, how kind he was to them, how he helped them, they attributed to him the aspects of divinity. So rather than feel upset by the apparent "lies" Jesus' life, rather than think the stories of him are nothing but a collection of fair tales, why not consider that because he existed as a human being, and was so wonderful in life, he became what we know of him now in death?

Jesus may not have been the first person for things to click with him the way they did, but he was certainly the first person with the guts to open his mouth and suggest these new interpretations. A lot of holy men of other Religions have come to the same conclusions of God that Jesus has. THe Buddha, Lao Tse, a lot of these people were connected to the same through line, were tapped into that energy that we can all seek to find. But Jesus sticks out, in history, as the only man to make a journey of it. Possessing the knowledge was not enough for Jesus, he had to share it, and he had to change the world to the best of his abilities, even if it meant dying in his desire to do so. It was worth it to him because when he saw people, he looked past that animalistic nature that also existed inside him and in everyone he saw what he saw in himself, God, and because he saw this he saw, most importantly, Love. In the hearts and minds of all men and women Jesus saw Love, despite how corrupted by the world they may have become. But before him, if anyone had similar thoughts and feelings, they knew that if they spoke up and said, "Hey fellas, God doesn't work that way." They would be killed. And look what happened to Jesus.

It's one thing to speak up for a cause and drop your donation into the collection plate, it's another to quit your entire life, give up all of your possessions, and dive into your cause head first because you honestly believe it's the right thing to do. Jesus did it, not because God told him to, but because he wanted to. That is utterly insane. It was not God's will or desire to change the world, it was Jesus'. Talk about the courage to do what's right. Jesus came to all these realizations about morality not because it all existed in his brain already or because it was just given to him, but because he worked his butt off to understand it all, and then came up with, on his own, parables, or stories, to make these moral ideas applicable and sensible to the average human being. Jesus understood that Love could save the world, that if he loved everyone with everything he had, if only starting the movement with twelve friends and growing slowly one by one, then maybe he could change the world and show us how to get to that well, could show us the way into the mind of God who gave us, not the ability to fear, but the ability to Love. Jesus understood that concordance is desireable, not discordance, that a propulsion of goodwill and care promotes harmony and peace, not an emanating of fear and strict rules that promotes negativity and needless sacrifice.

The importance and significance of his sacrifice is heavily dependent upon fate vs. free will. If he is fated to be sacrificed, it is, I believe, less significant. But if he has the ability to run and escape his demise or to choose any other way of life, to do anything else, and still he chooses to give his life regardless because the example proves a more important point, then what an incredible choice that is. The sacrifice and life of Jesus is more meaningful if he is choosing to do all these things, not guided by the forcing hand of God. The man aspect of Jesus is what connects us to him and allows us to relate to him. We cannot relate to and connect with a man who is half man, half God, all Holy Spirit. But because we can relate to Jesus the man, and acknowledge the Love within him, he has already acknowledged the Love within us. By drawing closer to him as a person, and not as a divine being, we are actually brought closer to God because we are given a better way of understanding him and relating to him rather than accepting that we can simply never understand God because he is magical.

When everyone told Jesus it was useless, he didn't quit. When they said he would be killed, he didn't quit. When they arrested him and beat him and strung him up to die, he refused to quit. Because what Jesus believed in was not Christianity, it was Love, plain and simple. Love, acceptance for being different, and refusing to judge our peers are some of the core elements of his teaching. It was he who gave us the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Even Jesus likely knew that that wasn't a revolutionary thought, others must have thought of it, but why had no one gone out into the world and tried to really show it to people. There was, and is, and incredible lack of Love in the world, and though it may seem impossible to change that, though world peace may seem unacheivable, Jesus knew that he could not quit, for it is not in acheiving world peace but in never giving up the fight for it that gives us victory.

This topic is, in my opinion (and my desire to write on it), nearly endless. I will not go on about it forever because I realize attention span and Religion don't often go hand in hand. But the point is, it may take some work, but if we can separate Jesus from Christianity, if we can view him as a Historical figure whose actions so shocked people and wowed them that the way they recalled it was as if he were walking on water, then clearly he was quite the guy. The divnity of Jesus does not devalue him, rather it aids in showing of what an incredible human being he must have been. Jesus did not know of you or I specifically when he died, as many like to say he did. He could not possibly have known of all the specific billions of human lives that would be born two thousand years after his death, but he did know that you and I would exist because he knew the world would keep turning. His death was, in his own opinion, a necessary example to show future generations to the nail when it sticks out. And as it is hammered in so he was nailed to the cross. (His torutre also is up to historical discrepency. Was it crucifixion or some other form of torture? The question is valid, and to be perfectly honest the form of torture itself is irrelevant to the validity of his cause. Jesus was put to death for trying to change the world. Period. It really doesn't matter if it was on a cross. The meaning of the sacrifice is unchanged.)

The point is, is that the Jesus I know, that many also know, is not a mythical or magical or fantastical at all in regards to his super powers. But because people attributed these abilities to him because he was so wonderful in life that clearly he must have been all those things, suggests how wonderful he was, and allows me to believe in his divnity because I believe in the divinity of us all. We all come from the same God, are all comprised of Love and are concordant beings, therefore we can and should find no problem in appreciating the divinity of Jesus because it bespeaks of his incredible humanity, a humanity that we are all capable of finding and using.

The idea of the divine Jesus cannot exist alone, on its own. Jesus the Christ, or the Messiah, cannot be without the most important component of him which is his humanity. Because Jesus was a man, without special power or ability (aside from his ability to understand the nature of the Universe and the nature of God), creates the foundation for Jesus the Divine. Without Jesus the man, there is no Christ; without Jesus the man, there is no practical God.

Jesus the man makes God real because he becomes less impossible and more probable. Now the most important questions comes, if we too are men and women, capable of the same actions as Jesus, how powerful can we be if we're willing to use the Love that exists within us? Jesus is just one man but has inspired billions. Now we are those billions. If we Love others, we are doing God's work. 

In the immortal words of the great Forrest Gump, "That is all I have to say about that."

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