People who need people Are the luckiest people in the world.
We’re children, needing other children,
And yet letting a grown-up pride Hide all the need inside,
Acting more like children than children.
Lovers are very special people. They’re the luckiest people in the world.
– Henry Robert Merrill Levan (1921-1998), from “People” (1964)
I wish that everyone could know Jesus personally! Even being in His presence feels overwhelming. When He looks at you, it is as if He has found at last His hundredth lost sheep (MT 18:12) and His pearl of great price (MT 13:46). But how is it possible that Jesus loves each one of us so much? The researcher in me is always at work, and just as I had to peek behind the curtain of my childhood experience of light, so I am feeling nagged now by a need to better understand this experience of personally knowing Jesus. How is it possible for Him to love each one of billions of people individually, and so much?
My Thomas accepts it all with casual grace. He says that he could never love one person the way Jesus loves each one of us, and I couldn’t either. “And that is why He is Jesus and you and I are not.” When I asked Thomas if he has ever asked Jesus how He can love each person so much, he told me that of course they have talked about it. And Jesus always says just, “I can see their souls.”
It has taken me a while to accept what my role in all of this might be. Thomas has let me work it through on my own. Over time, I have come to understand that Thomas and I share a close male bond that goes back for nearly two thousand years, and for all that time I have been a part of Jesus’s inner circle as well. Although I’m sure I am just Thomas’s tag-along! But that was why I recognized Jesus at once. Even though He looks so different from church-Jesus, I always knew who He was. And His spot beside that astral river always felt familiar to me, despite the amnesia that we accept when we undertake a lifetime on earth. Everyone would assume that Jesus’s inner circle must include some Catholic saints, but apparently most beings choose to advance as they grow spiritually, and then they join the various higher collectives. It is only the most loyal of Jesus’s friends that have stayed with Him. Thomas tells me that Jesus’s inner circle amounts to perhaps twenty mostly anonymous beings. It is sadly ironic that a Man who so dearly loves everyone hardly trusts anyone at all.
I have been meditating on the Master’s entirely justifiable lack of trust in embodied people, despite His immense love for all the world, and the discordance that this must create for Him. The Romans stole, and then they freely used His name for their own purposes. And they committed in His name the most monstrous acts. It wasn’t just the physical things that they did, but they have also spread so many false and fear-based teachings that Jesus has never had a way to counter. And oh yes, Jesus has studied all those awful Christian teachings. As His need to nurse the returning sufferers lessened, He would visit Christian places of worship in disembodied form. I am struck by the image of all those fire-and-brimstone preachers calling down hellfire and damnation on their congregations, quite unaware that in their midst was the Prince of Peace. And what have been some of the false and fear-based Christian teachings that have for so long been attached to the name of Jesus? Here are just four typical ones. If you were raised in Christianity, do any of these bogus dogmas look at all familiar to you?
- Substitutionary Atonement. The teaching that Jesus came to die on the cross as a pure sacrifice to God for Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden, and for your sins and for my sins, is absolutely central to Roman Christianity. The religion would be unrecognizable without it. And yet no afterlife researcher ever has found a single bit of evidence that the death of Jesus on the cross has ever made an afterlife difference for a single human being. Substitutionary atonement is just a holdover from ancient Judaism, making Jesus into the ultimate sacrifice to Yahweh.
- God’s Judgment and a fiery hell. Every Christian who ever has believed that God judges us has carried to church with him a Bible in which Jesus says “For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, so that all will honor the Son even as they honor the Father” (JN 5:22-23), and “If anyone hears My sayings and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world” (JN 12:47). So the fact that there is no divine judgment has always been a Biblical fact! And when we do any afterlife research at all, we also soon find that it is a literal fact as well. There is no divine judgment, and there is no hell. The whole notion of a hell to which we might be condemned by God is mere human folklore.
- Calvinism and the Elect. Calvinism is the sort of thing that you get when you carry any set of very bad human ideas to their logical conclusion. I wrote about Calvinism three years ago, and I urge you to read that post again, because all the really bad human ideas that are at the T.U.L.I.P. core of Calvinism still exist in the world today. Until it is stamped out altogether, and the earth wherever it has been is salted, there remains the risk that some bit of Calvinism might come back.
- The Rapture and Armageddon. The Book of Revelation is part of a collection of end-times literature that was produced during a period of extreme persecution, and it was included in the Bible by the Council of Nicaea in 325 as the Bible was first being assembled. Of course it was what those persecuted Christians were hoping for! But Armageddon never will actually happen, because its deeply fear-based vibration is the direct opposite of everything that Jesus taught, and if it ever did happen it would undo all the good that Jesus’s teachings ever managed to create on earth. And as we know, the Rapture idea was just a dream that some nineteenth-century teenager related to her pastor.
All four of these sets of Roman Christian dogmas are pure human-level nonsense! And yet, as was true of all the physical pain and death inflicted in the name of Jesus that the Master has spent most of the past two thousand years working so hard to heal, He never has complained to anyone about any of these false human ideas that have been taught by Roman Christianity in His name.
But I feel truly terrible about it all. Yes, He is famous. But what good is being famous if what you are famous for is lies and killing people? I was such a devout Roman Christian for most of my life that I almost feel as if I did all of this to Jesus personally. Even as we prepare teachingsbyjesus.com, we have to plaster all over the website and its companion book the fact that no Christian dogma is operative here. It would be easier in some ways for Jesus to start all over again with a new name. But as Thomas points out to me, the one good thing that the Romans did for Jesus was to make His name the most famous in the world, even two thousand years after His earthly death. Now we will just need to re-brand His name and get rid of all the fear the Romans have attached to it. And then Jesus can again use it happily!
To distract myself from all this guilt that I cannot help feeling for having remained a Roman Christian for so long, I have been trying to better understand what makes Jesus tick. He seems to be – and Thomas agrees with this – surprisingly childlike. Not childish, you understand, but rather as if Someone very old and profoundly wise had been stripped down to just His essential qualities. As if He had removed whatever adult sophistication would otherwise have gotten in the way of His becoming very close to us. And, come to think of it, He talks about our needing to become like children in order to enter the kingdom of God. Adult sophistication – or grown-up pride, as our frame-song says – just gets in the way of our coming together in perfect love. Jesus is a living example of what He says repeatedly in the Gospels! “Truly I say to you, unless you change and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. So whoever will humble himself like this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one such child in My name, receives Me” (MT 18:3-5).
A dear friend of ours mentioned to me just this past week that someone is spending a hundred million dollars on an advertising campaign to fix Jesus’s brand. A hundred million dollars! And how, you might wonder, are they planning to fix Jesus’s brand? They are running an online video campaign that features ads showing Jesus as a rebel, an activist, or a host of a dinner party. These ads have been viewed more than three hundred million times. Our friend wanted to know what I thought of this, and I said the same thing that Jesus said when one of His disciples complained that a stranger was casting out demons in Jesus’s name. Jesus said, “Whoever is not against us is for us.” (MK 9:40) Sure, whoever is paying for these ads is almost certainly a Roman Christian. But the genuine Jesus is all of these things! He is a rebel. An activist. And a host. And depicting Him in any of these ways is hugely better than always showing Him as just a human sacrifice nailed to a cross.
Teachingsbyjesus.com will be up and running in the first quarter of next year. It will let you have the experience of sitting at the feet of Jesus and hearing His teachings as clearly as possible on every topic that He addressed. And there will be both a Q&A and a weekly thought (I hesitate to call it a blog). How I will manage to keep that going and this as well is yet to be seen!
I believe I have mentioned to you that my very irreverent spirit guide has tried to get his Friend to demonstrate His physical power, which shocked Jesus considerably. You might think that He would want to try it, just for the fun of it? Maybe blow up a very big pumpkin on earth by touching it with His pinkie finger? He would be disembodied. No one would see Him. But, no. Boys will be boys, but not Jesus. And even doing something very positive on the earth with His physical power seems to feel off-limits to Him. Perhaps it would disrupt the human balance. Jesus’s role is to teach. And only to teach.
But Jesus really is God. There is an angelic purity about Jesus that makes it almost impossible for me to speak to Him, or even to be very close to Him. How my Thomas can treat Him as familiarly as he does is beyond me. When I say that to Thomas, he says just that there is a little spark of God in everyone, and Jesus just has a whole lot more of that spark. Wow, amen to that! But Jesus needs someone who will be His familiar, and Thomas is that for Him.
The problem most people will have with the teachings of Jesus is that they are not a Smorgasbord, but instead they are a System. And you even have to apply them in order and carefully if you want them to work optimally well. That was why Jesus kept saying that it was hard (e.g. MT 7:13-14). And it really is hard, at first, to change our ingrained habits. First gratitude, then forgiveness, and then love. And Roman Christianity focuses just on the love. But when the teachings of Jesus are properly followed, those teachings are absolutely transformational. I tried them eleven years ago, really expecting nothing. But when you give yourself at least three discreet months of focusing on those three key teachings in order, you can altogether transform your life! And this transformation is permanent.
In my entire life, there are two things that I have learned that I know now are certainly true. As the great quantum physicist Max Planck said, I cannot even be sure that the sun will rise tomorrow morning. But I know now for certain that Jesus is real. And I know that His teachings work wonderfully well to raise our spiritual vibrations. Only two things I know! And these two things are enough.
With one person, One very special person,
A feeling deep in your soul Says you were half, now you’re whole.
No more hunger and thirst. But first be a person who needs people.
People who need people Are the luckiest people in the world.
– Henry Robert Merrill Levan (1921-1998), from “People” (1964)