Most of us act like we don’t believe anything is beyond this earthly life and that death is the immutable end. But, since before pre-history we have been sensing there is more and mostly have thought of it as worth the time and effort to honor. We call it spirituality and we devise religions to explain and facilitate this connection with the Beyond. This has been called the work of God. But Jesus said that the work of God is to believe. Each one of us is equipped with the capacity to sense the Beyond and choose to believe that this materiality we are involved in is part of the Larger Reality.
Jesus was not starting a religion. Working within his given circumstances, he was demonstrating in word and deed what living is like connected with the Larger Reality. We see that living this way involves healing, restoring, liberating, and inspiring people to consider the “more abundant life” — the way of Love.
The most radical aspect of Jesus was his disregard of death as the ruling, established order. He talked about eternal life and the endless fountain of life bubbling up from our inner selves (John 4:12-14). This was backed up with talk of not worrying about what you would eat or wear (Matthew 6:19-34).
He broke the rules of traditional mourning where the body of Lazarus was neatly secured in the tomb (John 11:38-44). He was ridiculed scornfully when he said the dead daughter of Jairus was only sleeping (Luke 8:52-56). He disrupted a funeral procession in Nain when everyone was intent upon laying the widow’s son to rest (Luke 7:12-16). Ultimately, he dismayed his followers by refusing to resist the mob come to drag him off to a legalized assassination. On the cross he behaved in such a way that the thieves on crosses next to him argued whether he would get out of this. The centurion in charge of the crucifixion noted that this was not the usual prisoner resigned to his fate. The ones who arranged his crucifixion tried to set up legal restrictions against the idea that he would rise back from the dead.
Jesus was oriented to Life, by healing and restoring it, encouraging it, showing how to maximize it. He talked about going to God and preparing accommodations for his followers as if death was only a transition to a better state (John 14:1-3). He talked to his followers as if to all of humanity including us in the distant future … or to our distant descendants (John 17:20-21; Matthew 28:18-20).
Believing Shows in Behavior
This is the behavior of anyone who connects with the Larger Reality by believing death is not the end. We can observe the difference between this behavior and that which results from ignoring the Larger Reality: fatalism, consumerism, self-centeredness, fear, grabbing and guarding more stuff, bombing people’s country and homes and promoting those who do so …
Generally, we oppose anti-life behavior because we believe in the supremacy of life as Jesus and countless spiritual leaders have taught. We oppose the kind of behavior which disregards creation and the well-being of others. And by the way, promoting one’s view of “life” by abuse, hate and killing does not fit here.
It is important to regularly remind ourselves and reaffirm the Larger Reality of which this world is but a part. This is why the celebration of Holy Week with Jesus’ passion, death and resurrection, is good for us; we are reminding ourselves of the Larger Reality. Better yet, we can start every day reviving our connection with the Larger Reality; reminding ourselves all the time why we are endeavoring to live the truth and promote goodness, why we believe in love, not war. This discipline will gradually improve our behavior in word and deed, for it is the positive way of growth and is contributing to the maturing of humanity.
As Jesus demonstrated, believing is a way of life, not just fulfilling religious requirements, or immersing in the verbiage of religion.
Thank you for the vivid graphic, Growth by Turmoil, feels very real. Also a great message for Holy Week and Easter helping us make the theme of these days a way of life, as Jesus taught us to do, and as you say, not trying to start a new religion which those after him took it upon themselves to do. It has been a mistake to make a religion about Jesus instead of committing ourselves to follow his way, or his “religion” or “spirituality.”
Thank you, Barry. I’m growing to relate to who Jesus was and who Christ is as universal rather than my subculture. Peace, freedom, creativity and a much richer reality are more possible in this Larger Reality.