“Pray, then, in this way:
‘Father, who is in heaven,
Hallowed be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’”
– Master Jesus, from The Bible (MT 6:9-13)
Our weekly Seek Reality podcast will be ten years old in June. And in those ten years I have received multiple thousands of emails from listeners that in retrospect have traced the long decline of Christianity. And that is surprising, given the fact that at least nominally, the reality that the podcast has been seeking has been the survival of death and the details of the afterlife. But we also have had a few Seek Reality guests with whom I have discussed the decline of traditional Christianity, so our listeners have learned that I have at least a passing interest in the religion as well. And I do invite emails from listeners. But still, so many who have emailed me have said some variant of the same three things:
- They have been devout Christians from childhood.
- They lately have fallen away from the religion.
- Yet despite that, they remain devoted to Jesus.
Then they say, “So, what can I do now?” Most of these folks are in their sixties or seventies. And when I correspond with them, it is clear that they are bright, sensitive, often college-educated, and vastly troubled by their situation. Most are Catholics or mainline Protestants. And if they haven’t stopped attending church, they expect to make that decision shortly. I wish I had started years ago to keep track of the problems they each were having with the religion. But as best I can recall, these have been their complaints:
- Churches are unwelcoming. Some of these people have moved, and the churches in their new area are cliquish. Or as they have developed concerns, there is no one able to answer their questions. Or when their former pastor died or retired or their longtime church was closed, they simply were left with no good options. But most of all, they are finding the congregations themselves to be standoffish and unwelcoming.
- Christian teachings are unbelievable. Modern Christians in general are finding traditional Christian teachings to be less and less believable. The notion that God could demand the sacrifice to Himself of God’s own Son before God can forgive us for Adam’s sin in eating the apple seems to be the hardest belief for most modern people to swallow, but there are other problems as well. People wonder whether the wine and bread really do become the blood and flesh of Jesus. And they wonder how it is possible for a loving God to condemn some of His children to burn alive in hell forever for even what seem to be trivial sins.
- They want a closer and deeper spiritual walk. This third problem is harder to pin down, but many Christians as they grow older find themselves wanting something more now than what is happening in modern churches of any denomination. Catholics find the homilies boring, and the Masses are just perfunctory. Even Protestants think their ministers are more and more flatly going through the motions. They want Jesus to be truly alive in the church! They want a sense of excitement and communion with the living Christ that somehow just isn’t happening for them.
So for them, and for Jesus, I am now going to try to give to my dear Friend His own Way. But apparently, Jesus no longer wants to call it His Way anymore. But instead, He wants to give it a whole new beginning. I talked last week about just how radical our beloved Friend has come to seem to me. So this fall we will publish The Fun of Loving Jesus – Embracing the Christianity That Jesus Taught. And then by the spring we hope to put the finishing touches on His planned website, called teachingsbyjesus.com. He seems just to want to walk the byways now, and teach and talk with and enjoy people. The last thing that Jesus wants to do is to start yet another religious variation! And after seventeen hundred years of Roman Christianity coming between Jesus and all the people who have been eager to know Him, He deserves the chance to speak directly with those who love Him, and in His own words to boot, without Roman Christianity any longer in His way.
The picture that heads our post this week is a close approximation of Jesus’s face as He chooses to look today. The effect is different, and much diminished, since here you cannot feel His gorgeously silken personal energy. If you were as close to Him as you are to this picture, and if He wasn’t thinking about toning it down, you would feel a stunning and amazing power that, oddly, doesn’t seem to bother the children. But this is how He looks to His friends who are constantly coming and going by His river in the astral plane, and to all the millions of aborted children in all the children’s villages, with whom He spends a great deal of His time. And Jesus with toddlers climbing all over Him is a beautiful sight to see! Whenever possible, miscarried fetuses are reared by their own relatives, but nearly all the abortion victims grow to young adulthood in children’s villages over eight or nine years of earth-time. And since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973 in the United States, there have been so many babies flooding into the afterlife that their villages are everywhere. The children’s villages are off-limits to all but specially trained care-givers, and in the past fifty years Jesus has made those villages His personal mission.
But is the face in that picture how Jesus actually looked two thousand years ago? He says He is happy with the picture, but when I asked Him if that is how He looked on earth, He told me just that everyone looked like that back then. And of course, He may never have seen His own face in a mirror. I should add that when modern Christians who have just arrived in the afterlife come to Him to be blessed, He transforms at once into pale church-Jesus, with blue eyes and light-brown hair to His shoulders, and He blesses them. But the picture above is Jesus as He has looked to me whenever I have been allowed to remember a meeting with Him. Now I cannot imagine Him looking any other way.
Jesus intends to have us tell His story on His website from His own perspective. I have told Him that in that case, we ought to hire a young man to be His website’s narrator. Even maybe someone who looks like Him? But He shudders at the thought of that. Oh no. He trusts me, but that is only because Thomas can control me. He has been betrayed so often that now He trusts no one in a material body, which is a sad commentary on human nature.
Beyond His life story as He told it to me, the only other thing that He wants on His website is His Gospel teachings. No dogmas. No rules! Not even that we must love one another? He says No. He says that if you have rules, then you introduce the concept of Sin, which means that Fear comes next, and then you start the whole religion cycle over again. Oh lord. I am so looking forward to seeing how this goes!
It is a miracle that we have the Gospel teachings of Jesus preserved for us even as well as we have them preserved. When Jesus was in my mind for those two weeks that He channeled Liberating Jesus, He showed us how to recognize and pluck out the parts that Nicaea and others had later added to the Gospels. We will never have the words that were not preserved, but Jesus said as we were writing that book that the words that have survived are enough. And now I stop dead and I think yet again, oh my God. Why me?
The idea of giving Jesus a website came from Thomas. Jesus doesn’t seem to know what a website even is, beyond a way to get information to people more efficiently; but then, He is always very far beyond busy. He has learned by experimenting to put only enough of Himself in my mind that it doesn’t feel as if my head is exploding, and this time I am more than just an instrument to Him. But I really doubt that He has ever been anybody’s spirit guide! He reminds me of my old law professors. For example, I said to Him in my mind, “I think you came to earth to abolish religions and teach us to relate to God directly. Am I right?” He said in response, “Hmmm. That is an interesting proposition. Can you prove it? Where do I say that?” Oy. So now I am back in law school?
But I think I actually can prove it. There are four steps.
First, You were disgusted with clergymen. For example, You said, “Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation” (MK 12:38-40). And, “Woe to you religious lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering” (LK 11:52). And also, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in” (MT 23:13). Right?
Second, You routinely violated the Sabbath rules. For example, you plucked grain and You healed on the Sabbath. And You said, “The Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath” (MT 12:8). True?
Third, You frowned on public worship. You said, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. … When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full” (MT 6:1-5).
And Fourth, You told us to worship God in secret. You said, “When you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (MT 6:6).
Oh wait, And Fifth, You wanted us to get past worshiping idols! You said, “But a time is coming, and even now has arrived, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (JN 23-24). That is also against religions.
And you called clergymen snakes and vipers, but we don’t need to get into that. So, am I right? You came to teach us to get past all religions?
There was a pause. Then Jesus said, “It would be more impressive if you had all of that memorized.”
Distantly, I could hear Thomas chuckling. And Jesus has the driest sense of humor. What, so He was just teasing me?
There was a very recent time when that experience would have demoralized me. Jesus has to reduce His energies so much to be in my mind without overwhelming me that it was hard to tell, but I thought He was smiling and sending me a hug, although I could barely feel any of it. This working with Jesus feels as if I have coaxed the most exotic bird to perch on my finger, but He might at any moment fly away. I just sent Him the thought that we will get this all sorted out soon enough.