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Jesus Came to Set the Record Straight

 

For believers, understanding our relationship with God is essential. Our understanding of that relationship defines God. We understand our side of the relationship; we experience it every day in our thoughts, emotions, prayer and behaviors. Our understanding of the relationship with God may change depending on what we think or how we act. Our understanding of the relationship may also change if God does not respond as anticipated or desired. But how can we understand God’s side of the relationship?

Many people accept traditional Christian stories as a portrayal of the relationship. The stories tell us how God has interacted with humanity. Some of the stories align with our understanding of human relationships, they are familiar and make sense. Religious leaders explore and define our relationship with God through the stories. God may be angry or loving depending on the circumstances of the relationship in the story.

Is it possible that we bias the other half of the relationship? Have human feelings, thoughts, reactions and logic been projected onto God? For example, how does God impart justice? Surely, God will correct the injustices we see all around us. That must mean that God will punish the people that do bad things. Since we understand punishment, an eye for an eye, as an effective means of correcting an injustice, that must be what God will do. Expecting God to act the way we might, creates the possibility for a vengeful God.

The stories, of a vengeful and loving God, are cornerstones of traditional Christianity. There is a fundamental problem with the foundation of traditional Christianity. The stories of a loving God are true and strong. The stories of a vengeful God are false. It is not God’s anger, it is ours. These stories confuse us because they do not ring true with our connection to a loving God. The understanding of a loving God is a strand of our spiritual DNA.

Traditional Christianity only got half the story right. Despite the obvious contradictions with the teachings of Jesus, traditional Christianity has held onto the erroneous, melded teachings of previous generations. The previous teachings are based on humanities early understanding of the relationship with God; explaining natural events, praying for intervention, looking for justice, elevating our God over their God, becoming a chosen people.

The stories of a vengeful God are being eroded by our spiritual evolution. More and more people acknowledge a loving God and reject a vengeful God. Evidence of this erosion is confirmed by the upheaval occurring in traditional Christianity. A foundation must remain level and solid. You do not have to be an engineer to understand that repairing a foundation is complicated and requires great care.

We must rethink our relationship with God. Understanding that a loving God does not act as we do is fundamental. Think of how a loving God may act differently than us. Imagine what limitless love can accomplish. God’s wisdom and love make punishment unnecessary and meaningless. God does not have a fixation on our sins, that is our fixation. A loving God, a God whose love is beyond human comprehension, cannot become angry or vengeful. Reimaging the relationship with God leads to a new understanding of Christianity, modern Christianity.

Our spiritual evolution has stalled. We remain stuck because we will not let go of the angry God. Our acceptance of a vengeful God is an anchor that will not allow us to proceed. Jesus came to set the record straight. Jesus taught by word and example what the other half of the relationship is about. Jesus came to release us from the anchor. Jesus’ embodiment of the loving God is our guide on the evolutionary journey. His teachings point the way. The community we are meant to build requires that we follow the path illuminated by Jesus. We cannot do that until we rewrite the narrative of our relationship with God.

God is not angry, keeping score or waiting for us to fail. God is patiently waiting for us to experience life, weaving His love throughout our lives. We honor Jesus by rejecting any notion of a vengeful God. Jesus is ahead of us on the evolutionary journey, calling us. Follow me, this way. We cannot advance until we set aside our beliefs in an angry God. Our goal, to love one another as Jesus taught, will not be achieved until we accept the unconditional love of God. The premise of a modern Christianity will change the dynamics of our relationship with God and each other, it will change the understanding of our purpose.

Our belief in a vengeful God creates the possibility that some of us are better than others. This disparity results in discrimination and oppression. Teachings associated with a vengeful God can be leveraged against someone who is different from us, someone we do not understand, someone we feel threatened by. Dr. King’s dream will not come true until we reject a vengeful God. The dream is possible through a God that loves each child equally and unconditionally. Belief in a God who only loves “believers” gives license to subjugate.

Why does traditional Christianity hold onto the contradictory teaching of a vengeful God? Perhaps reasoning for a loving God fell short. Since we (most people) are unable to consider universal forgiveness, we limit God’s ability to love us with unwarranted forgiveness. God’s love is not limited. God has the ability to free us from our human nature so that we are able to enter His kingdom.

Modern Christianity understands that our fallen nature is not the result of an apple, it is because we are alive. While we are alive, we are separated from God by our human nature. When we die, we are freed from our human nature and unified with God. There is no reason for God to punish us because of our struggles with human nature. Perfection is only possible when we are with God. God’s act of love is allowing us to be separated during our life time. To what purpose? We don’t know.

Jesus’ act of love was assuming human form to show us the way to the loving God. Jesus’ life was a manifestation of God’s love. His murder was a horrendous act committed through human weakness. Jesus’ death is not needed to forgive sins. God does not need gifts or sacrifices. The traditional Christian narrative is so pervasive that it obscures other possibilities.

We struggle to understand the modern Christian narrative because and we cannot fathom how God can forgive so generously. Jesus’ crucifixion for the forgiveness of sins may be an ancient sacrificial ritual; it is not a requirement for an omnipotent, loving God. Jesus did not come to be a human sacrifice; he came to set the record straight. Jesus’ dying so that God can forgive our sins only makes sense if God is vengeful.

Why do we continue to practice a religion based on the myth of a vengeful God? The emptiness in our hearts, the longing in our souls, the baggage we drag around, are not because a loving God is not present; those feelings result from the confusion created in our spirit by traditional Christianity. The discord is pervasive and damaging.

Traditional Christianity’s commitment to doctrine has created a stubbornness that cuts off any possibility of adapting to new understanding. Doctrine is hanging around the neck of traditional Christianity like a millstone. The leaders of traditional Christianity are unwilling to release it. Letting go of a vengeful God and embracing a loving God will be liberating for many, challenging for others and impossible for some. Traditional Christianity has not grown or matured, consequently, it struggles with today’s challenges. If we accept that everyone is a child of God, like ourselves, do we see them as God does? Does our understanding, appreciation and acceptance of them come close to how we hope God understands, appreciates and accepts us?

It is clear from the historical record that our ancestors drifted off the correct path. Our spiritual evolution has reached a point where we must choose between a loving God and traditional Christianity. One path leads to more of the same, the other path leads to generational change that embodies the best of humanity. Do not dwell on the past, do not try to relive it, do not try to correct it. Imagine a better future, a better you, a better world.

Polling indicates that there are large numbers of Christians sitting on the sidelines. Traditional Christian churches do not align with those who struggle with the concept of a vengeful God. The disenfranchised want the conflict between their spirit and their religion to be reconciled. They long to follow a loving God, but how? How do we move from a religion based on a vengeful God to one based on a loving God? Conversion seems unlikely. A new narrative, based on God’s unlimited capability to love, provides a stable foundation and allows for spiritual growth and coalescence.

Rebuilding Christianity will take time and effort.

Review & Commentary