The On Faith site says it’s a conversation about religion. I ask: “Was
Jesus religious?” Some respond with that no-brainer: “Is the Pope Catholic?”
My question about Jesus is not so easily dismissed.
Jesus responded to his critics by asserting that he had not come to pull
down, but fulfill, the moral code and prophecy. He was an outsider,
an itinerant rabbi, but he spoke with authority. His words healed people.
This was acknowledged by insiders and adversaries alike. Two whom he
healed, the Magdalene and Bartimaeus, even called him Rabboni
– a term reserved for the president of the Temple. Yet he counseled his
followers (Matthew 23) not to allow anyone to call them Rabbi, Father,
Teacher, Leader, Director, or Master. (These English words are in
evidence in the Greek.) Is this being heeded by clergy and believers
today? Pew-sitters rarely hear anything from this chapter!
Yet it is worthy of close reading, and alarming in its severity.
Perhaps religiosity is the problem. And perhaps the sticking point is
found where our own faith stories collide with that of this man, whom many
regard as the central character of history. Most are taught to worship
Jesus. Yet Jesus says ‘call no man good, but one, who is our Father in
heaven.’ (-see also John12:44.) He claimed to come, not seeking to
be worshipped, but to serve; and he was ever seen pointing to Our Father.
Religion, contrarily, enthrones him. Yet he said “the kingdom of God is
within you” (Luke 17:21) and “you are the light of the world” (Matt
Jesus was not interested in religiosity. He deeply wished that we
know the other ‘rel’ word — ‘relationship’ (in God’s family).
Those who dare appear to downplay Jesus’ stature risk being reviled;
yet his own focus was not on himself, but on his “siblings.”
His parody of the authorities — riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, made
such a mockery of their parades of power and pomp, even while he
foreknew the result: crucifixion. Sadly, this was the only way he could awaken us.
Sadder yet is the misunderstanding that persists over his place in the
history of consciousness. He wasn’t kidding when he said the kingdom is
within. Oz-like, we are to “Pay no attention to that man behind the
curtain” for it is only a Rabbi/Father/Teacher/Leader/ Director, or ego.
Look inside. The Father’s kingdom is at hand if we, with faith, are
ready to let go of our own religiosity, and do business with the Divine. This does
not preclude worship, for the preacher needs your help in releasing that burden, too.
Eric Chaffee is a long-time student of Christian Science. He has been
elected to conduct worship by various memberships of that denomination,
but does not purport to represent fellow members’ views. He also writes for
[email protected] and may be found in the
archives of nonduality.com.