The Religion of Jesus
There are dozens of religious denominations on the
fruitful tree of Christianity. There have been disagreements and
schisms from the start, yet all Christians – and Jewish and Muslim
believers as well – will attest to the fact that Jesus lived an
exemplary life; one worthy of emulation. We have some stories of how
he lived in the first century but our lives are very different from
what he encountered during that time. Nonetheless there are enough
similarities that we can ask: what would Jesus do if faced with my
difficult situation? Because Jesus had a personal relationship with
God, we can imagine he asked a comparable question: “How can I
harmonize my mind and soul with yours Father?” From the love he had
for his Father and the love he felt from him, he knew God loves all
of his children absolutely. From this knowledge came the Master’s
personal gospel: The Fatherhood of God and the universal connection
between all of his brothers and sisters.
The Institutionalized Religions based on the life and death of the Master have many precepts and formulas to guide their followers but we do not face our heavenly judgment as a Catholic, a Baptist, or a Buddhist. He sees us as a son or daughter that he loves completely. Jesus elevated the Golden Rule to its highest possible concept since he was able to tap into the spiritual reservoir from whence spirit insight springs. God gives to each of his children everything needed to follow his great command: “Be you perfect even as I am perfect.”
We can aspire to take on the mind of Christ and be assured it is a worthy objective because he lived the entire range of the human experience. He knows how we think and feel because he thought and felt deeply the highs and lows any normal person would recognize. He knows what it is like to succeed, to fail, and to grow. It was, of course, impossible for him (when he was here) to have specific knowledge of all the experience of every person, but the scope of his life was complete – especially intellectually and spiritually.
Often the sincere desire to live as Jesus lived is mis-channeled into trying to do exactly as he did. We are not admonished to live the same life he lived. We are lovingly encouraged to find our own unique contribution to the divine mosaic and live our life as we can and should. To share the religion of and with Jesus we also need to know God directly; firsthand. Instead of limiting ourselves to inspiring words and established rituals we can seek (and find) actual knowledge of the love constantly pouring forth from Deity. True religion is an individual, one-on-one relationship with God. From this faith-grasp all real growth flows.
Jesus taught two primary concepts: to do the will of the Father and the spiritual membership in the kingdom of heaven. To this end he did not only go about preaching, he went about doing good. We have only a small taste of his early life and private ministry but he matured just as any other human, growing in grace and understanding until he was the perfected man we witness in the gospels. Comparing our progress with his may lead to a sense of self-disappointment, however he would not want us to feel inferior. Everyone grows at their own pace. It is just a matter of time. When we can look at his life and are inspired and encouraged, it is be easier to do our best.
Jesus had two main techniques of teaching, one for his disciples, and one for the masses. Because some people grasp truth more deeply than others we see how he chose parables as the means to give each individual in a group what they could comprehend. To the apostles he spoke more plainly. He explained what he meant by his profound statement: “the kingdom of heaven is within you.” He made clear to them the kingdom is the personal experience of making real the higher qualities of spiritual living. And he told them as they acquired these values they were growing their immortal soul.
Accordingly, we too can participate in the grand career by choosing a set of higher qualities as our central and eternal focus, as our directing principals. These ideals should be ones we know are passed down to us directly from God. Ones we can remember and steadfastly rely on. We can decide on these by asking, “Who is God? What is his nature? What are his attributes?” Once we find these we can see which of them we can realistically share. We may not hope to acquire omnipotence but we can, in our own way and in our own time, aspire to a down-stepped human ideal. Since God is the source of truth we can be tactfully honest. Knowing all true beauty comes from the divine we can follow the Master’s advice and be cheerful even in the face of adversity. And being very sure infinite goodness flows through the universe we can seek to be kind.
Most qualities are impossible to live unless we share them with each other. And through that mutual appreciation we learn the true nature of the religion Jesus practiced in his daily life. Because he did so daily his total life became a magnificent example, an inspiring testament to how it is done right. Along the way we discover that the acquisition of values is cumulative, and since nothing of value is ever lost, they are always with us. We take them in our souls to heaven.