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Finding Jesus (Again)


Yvonne
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Once again, I have been meditating on a subject for a while and figured I'd throw it out here.

 

I have been reading and re-reading threads on "Jesus" and "Christ" , and thinking, praying, meditating (and any combinations thereof) on just who/what "Jesus Christ" means to me.

 

As I contemplated just who the man Jesus is/was, several things occurred to me:

 

1. Whether the man Jesus as described in the gospels was an actual historical figure is, to me, completely irrelevant. I choose to follow the example of compassion and the idea that the "Kingdom of God" is within each of us.

 

2. Whether the resurrection was an actual, physical resuscitation or a metaphorical resurrection is also irrelevant to me. Something happened to the early followers of Jesus that caused them to believe that Jesus (an actual historical person or an amalgam) had a special message.

 

3. That the answers I needed, though I found them here and in books, would never make sense to me unless I accepeted the first and second statements; and, the answers could only make sense if I looked within myself, to my intuition and my faith (tempered, of course, with scholarly input!)

 

So, that's how I'm coming into Christmas. I wish I could say it all made sense, but at least I can say it isn't important to me, at this point in my journy, for A to equal B and for C to equal D. It is enough to say that A, B, C and D simply are.

 

Merry Christmas

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Yvonne, thank you for sharing those awesome thoughts from both your head and your heart born of your experience and searching. I should probably just shut up at this point so that I don't say anything that detracts from your post, but what you've said so touches me personally and confirms my own journey, that I have to chime in with my own 2c.

 

>>1. Whether the man Jesus as described in the gospels was an actual historical figure is, to me, completely irrelevant. I choose to follow the example of compassion and the idea that the "Kingdom of God" is within each of us.

 

I think this is so relevatory and relevant to our times and culture. Christians in our time (and perhaps through much of history) so want to "nail Jesus down" (and that's been done already), especially concerning his nature. These kinds of discussions and arguments are interesting on a certain level, but they can cause us to miss exactly what you said -- his example of compassion and his message of the kingdom. As I'm sure you know from your own studies, except for in the more Greek Gospel of John, Jesus' message was hardly ever about himself, and his acts of compassion were not done to make people worship him. His message was about how close the kingdom of God is to us (versus the kingdoms of this world) and how everyone is invited to participate. Our participation in that kingdom is, just as you said, based in compassion. That is the mark of those who seek to follow his Way. Many of the Jews in Jesus' day looked for the Kingdom to come "down from heaven" as a violent overthrow of secular government so that they could have their land back. But Jesus teaches that the Kingdom is found and comes from within as a compassion that forms communities that bless our world. For me, I value the study of the "historical Jesus" not to discover whether or not I should worship him as God, but simply to understand his teachings in their first century context so that I might implement some of them appropriately into my own life in this century.

 

2. Whether the resurrection was an actual, physical resuscitation or a metaphorical resurrection is also irrelevant to me. Something happened to the early followers of Jesus that caused them to believe that Jesus (an actual historical person or an amalgam) had a special message.

 

I think this is spot on, Yvonne. Something happened. What that was is debateable, and, as you've said, probably irrelevant. It is the effect of that Something that is important. This is much like my own journey and epiphanies. If I talk about them, I cannot describe them with words that make complete sense either to me or to others. The more I try to pin them down with accurate words, the more my words are insufficient to the task. I find that I have to, much as Jesus did, resort to metaphors, similies, and parables. I say that I continue to experience what I call the presence of Jesus, but I don't mean that he is a ghost standing beside me. Neither do I mean that I am channeling him from heaven to earth. Neither do I mean that I feel posessed by his spirit so that I have no control of my life. It is a Something that is hard to put into words. Therefore, imo, it is best lived out in actions. When Jesus' disciples finally began to get his message, they didn't start building altars or statues to worship him at. Instead, they formed small communities where they really tried to love one another by sharing what they had, helping each other, learning how to forgive, learning how to sacrifice, learning how to be a blessing to the world. The "Jesus worship" came later. And when it did, imo, his message became secondary.

 

>>3. That the answers I needed, though I found them here and in books, would never make sense to me unless I accepeted the first and second statements; and, the answers could only make sense if I looked within myself, to my intuition and my faith (tempered, of course, with scholarly input!)

 

Again, I think this is spot on. We must each first find the Kingdom (God's transforming presence) in our own heart. That, to me, is the good foundation. It's not like the sand of the world's kingdom, for it is built on love and compassion. When we begin to discover that, then we find that our very lives become the message of the Kingdom, that just like Jesus (and as Paul said), we become living gospels and God's ambassadors to the world.

 

Thank you, Yvonne, for sharing your own "the Gospel according to Yvonne" with us. Your life is wonderful good news!

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Consider this.....when Jesus died on the cross, His disciples and followers experienced losing Him,and it had to feel like a permanent loss. The sense of loss, confusion, disappointment, had to be terrible...there was nothing in their concept of a messiah that prepared them for this! And again, when Jesus ascended, here they were, He'd left them again....a promise to return, but...can't we feel the longing, the expectation, of that return, which they took to be soon, to them, within at least some of their lifetimes, in the NT voices of those living "on hold", as hope faded, that it wasn't today, it wasn't yesterday....did we misunderstand? Was all that experienced with Him just a delusion? Had HE been wrong in HIS expectation of a return?

 

It seems reasonable to me that we might expect such times in our relationship with Him, as well.

 

Jenell

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What a marvelous and well thought out reflection! The Progressive Christianity Forum seems particularly wonderful this Christmas, or is it me? I don't post often (I either accidentally erase my well thought out words or reflect and decide they are not as expressive as they were tumbling from mind to computer) but I read all posts.

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As I contemplated just who the man Jesus is/was, several things occurred to me:

 

1. Whether the man Jesus as described in the gospels was an actual historical figure is, to me, completely irrelevant. I choose to follow the example of compassion and the idea that the "Kingdom of God" is within each of us.

 

2. Whether the resurrection was an actual, physical resuscitation or a metaphorical resurrection is also irrelevant to me. Something happened to the early followers of Jesus that caused them to believe that Jesus (an actual historical person or an amalgam) had a special message.

 

3. That the answers I needed, though I found them here and in books, would never make sense to me unless I accepeted the first and second statements; and, the answers could only make sense if I looked within myself, to my intuition and my faith (tempered, of course, with scholarly input!)

 

I have been wrestling with similar issues for some time now. I first read your thoughts the day you posted them and have been pondering them since then. You exposed my main stumbling block. It does matter to me whether or not Jesus was a real person and it does matter whether or not the bible is true. Unfortunately, all the evidence I’ve uncovered indicates there never was a historical Jesus and the bible is certainly not literally true or factually accurate; and Christianity is most likely a combination of Paganism and Judaism that has strong elements of Gnosticism.

 

I’ve come to accept that both premise you noted matter greatly to me because I cannot put my faith in illusions and fables. On the other hand I can’t image living my life without God. I’ve believed in God for as long as I can remember. I didn’t become religious though until I was 20. My bride lead me to Jesus shortly after we were married. I went along with everything until I entered my 50’s. At that point reality began to set in and the bible stopped making sense. I began to see the contradictions & inconsistencies. A few years later I acknowledged for the first time that I didn’t really believe there ever was a literal Garden of Eden here on earth or that a guy named Noah scurried around the earth collecting animals to save them from a schizophrenic God bent on committing universal genocide.

 

At that point my faith really began to unravel. In an effort to try and put the shattered elements of my faith back together again I began to research and study the origins and evolution of the bible and Christianity. Some years later, and at the ripe old age of 66, my faith is still in shambles. What my research revealed only exacerbated my problem.

 

In my search to find something that made sense and would allow me at least hope that God exist I found Deism. That opened a new way to envision God and one that made sense to me, but Deism isn’t a religion per se. Your post motivated me to do some more exploring and research. My explorations eventually lead me to something called the Unity Church. I’ve spend the last few days researching them and their teaching. It appears, at least as far as I can determine for now, that Deism and the Unity Church have much in common. The Unity Church interprets scripture from a metaphysical perspective and that makes enormous sense to me. Jesus and his teaching are also viewed from a metaphysical perspective and that works for me too. It seems that combining aspects of Deism and the thinking and teaching found in the Unity Church works for me in a way that nothing else I’ve encountered does.

 

Thank you for posting your thoughts Yvonne. Your post motivated me to explore more deeply and to find a potential way for me to make Jesus and God real and relevant again in my life. That is not to say that I agree with everything the Unity Church teaches but their premise makes far more sense to me than traditional Christianity does. That is also not to say that all of my spiritual issues have been resolved either, but I feel like I am at least making some progress.

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Thank you for posting your thoughts Yvonne. Your post motivated me to explore more deeply and to find a potential way for me to make Jesus and God real and relevant again in my life. That is not to say that I agree with everything the Unity Church teaches but their premise makes far more sense to me than traditional Christianity does. That is also not to say that all of my spiritual issues have been resolved either, but I feel like I am at least making some progress.

 

Javelin,

 

Thanks for sharing your story. I personally will probably never have all my spiritual issues resolved. IMO, the struggle is part of the journey. The important thing, I think, is not to give up. ;)

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Thanks Yvonne. I think I need to add a disclaimer to my original post. Deism appeals to me because it allows for the incorporation of logic, reason, and human intellect. The basic premise of the Unity Church seems to be focused on spirituality and a symbolic interpretation of scripture through the use of metaphor and allegory. I find both of those concepts appealing.

 

Just to be clear, I do not agree with or embrace many of the other teachings that are associated with the Unity Church. I like their emphasis on spirituality and their method of interpreting scripture, but those attributes alone are not enough to entice me to become a member of their organization. I assume there are elements within many groups that I would find appealing but that doesn't necessarily mean I would want to be a permanent part of their fellowship either, but then any group who would accept me as a member probably needs to be viewed with a suspicious eye.

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Yvonne, thank you. I too don't know any facts about Jesus. I only know Christ as a portal, a tangent or point to the one reality that is common ground for the domains that dominate my senses and mind. The one consciousness that is behind the physical and psychic appearances that I observe in my daily life.

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While it may be true that we lack certain declarative information about Jesus, what we do have is a very good working model for going about our day to day business of life in harmony with our internal and external realities. Having a good working model avoids the pitfalls of needing all of the "event facts" and facilitates progress towards the goal of a better life or "how facts".

 

Myron

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