Good News That Liberates

The Galilean sage taught and lived his insight of the “kingdom” of the Father. It offended the religious folks in his audience, but it was a comforting message to those who were not so religious, including the immoral people among them. Joshua invited them to join him at the dinner table of all things! The good religious people called them “sinners” not only because of their immoral lives but especially because they did not participate in the rituals of the temple worship, nor did they practice an exclusive behavior toward outsiders.

What was this message of the “kingdom” of the Father?  It was not unlike the message of the OT prophets who spoke of God’s mercy without sacrifice, and that called out for accepting and coming to the aid of the fatherless, the widow, and the stranger among them. It was treating others as they would like to be treated. (Not just as you would like it, but as they would like it.) It meant loving them rather than punishing, paying them back or getting even with them. It meant forgiving those who caused you harm – over and over again – until they finally stop their behavior! Doing so meant you were imaging the Father’s way.

This was not all that difficult, because the Father had already placed a consciousness of himself and his ways into humans when he called them out of muddy clay. This is what set humans apart from other creatures. Humans are free to actually mirror the Father’s greatest attributes of unconditional love, acceptance, and forgiveness for unloving choices made by others. It was an amazing act of love to take this risk of giving them such freedom. As it turns out, when humans do make the unloving choice, such choices only make the better loving choices shine all that much brighter. Since loving choices are so beneficial to all, and harm no one, humans can learn from their mistakes and choose better ways in the future. Children learn this faster than adults. Like, “Ooops, that really seemed to hurt my brother – and Mom too. They are always so nice to me. I really need to do something better that is not harmful to them. Besides, their grief hurts me too.”

This message called religion into question. It even called the authenticity of the scriptures as being the very word of God into question (such as “an eye for an eye” and many other examples of an angry sky-god destroying enemies, even the Babylonian idea of an end-time apocalypse which had crept into Judaism after their captivity). It called the need for a mediator and religious rituals into question. It set humans free to be humane toward each other. It put an end for the need to appease an angry sky-god, and it abolished the fall mythology. It taught the presence of the generous Creator-Father among us, revealed in sometimes insignificant but unconditional loving acts between humans. Little wonder that this message was so scandalous to the religious mindset. It was indeed offensive to such thinking, especially because it threatened its further existence. It required some hard rethinking. It meant moving on to something much better than harmful exclusive behavior and an old payback justice system. No wonder that the religious leadership called for the Galilean’s death! His message would soon put them out of business!

Science has attempted to explain inhuman behavior as an animal inheritance. Some have softened that a bit by calling it animal-like. The religious mind has attempted to explain inhuman behavior as the result of a fall from perfection. These minds have also been unable to explain natural disastrous events in any other way except that they were caused by an angry sky-god upset with the bad behavior of humans. But modern science has taught us otherwise and can now warn us to take precautions. Even death is shown by science to be no more than a natural event which occurred among fish, birds, and animals thousands, perhaps millions, of years before fossil evidence of any human existence. Aging and death never has been something new to humanity, as if it was added as a punishment by an angry sky-god for human disobedience. So just like the rest of us, scientists can discover “evidence” that can lead them astray or evidence that can answer old questions and challenge current thinking based on myths or outdated ideas.

I have my own reasons to present the following conclusions. First, based on what I see around me in nature, I believe that it was all conceived of and brought into existence by a very creative Infinite and Loving Mind. Everything is either much too intricate or way too colossal to have just evolved on its own, even given enough time. That some species have adapted to certain natural changes in their environment is another matter which can hardly be called evolution in its strict sense. Rather, it reveals an amazing inner sense and ability to survive. And secondly, I think everything was nicely in place before the Creator finally called humanity out of the muddy clay. But there was something very special about humans that immediately set them apart from the rest of creation. It was not that they were perfection personified. They had something more than an inner sense and ability to survive. It was that the Creator actually entered into humanity as a greater consciousness, a final unexpected and inconceivable touch. All the dynamic creation which had been set in motion to arouse human curiosity needed this consciousness which was neither animal-like nor one that simply directed humans like robots. Humans also needed to be free and humane. The creative Source actually chose to live within and among humans in this way, a final expression of Love personified. This made it possible for humans to be unconditionally loving to each other. Brilliant! But there is much more.

Creatively making use of anything that surrounded them and applying that to make conditions even better for self and for others became the hope that was given to human life. Making things better remains the greatest hope and challenge for humanity to this day. And again, doing so freely, with a free will, that is, without the controls of another, especially a sky-god, was and still is the essential characteristic needed while working toward accomplishing these needs and desires. It was a risk to be sure, because freedom left room for the possibility of bad choices, unloving and harmful choices, but the risk was worth taking. Besides, as I said, against the background of having made a poor choice, a better choice would shine like the sun and call for making the better one next time. After all, unconditional love and endless forgiveness and patience are among the Father’s greatest attributes, so they are vital attributes for humans to become conscious of and mirror as well. And it was only within an environment of freedom from restraints that they could be realized to any great extent. In a more controlled environment, not so much. Perhaps here and there, and especially when humans broke away from tyranny to find a better land of promise, but it usually took longer for unconditional love to finally show itself while under the strict controls of another. Not impossible, but difficult. Eventually, the creative ingenuity of humans will break out because it is a gift of the Creator that cannot be held under control forever.

For humanity to become aware of a loving consciousness within them did take time for some. Others quickly caught on to the great value of this insight which benefited all around them. However, no doubt while protecting self and loved ones from the inhumane choices of others, getting even soon became the primary concern for those who wished to survive. History proves as much, over and over again. This survival issue led to a faulty payback justice concept and finally to a sacrificial idea for appeasing their false sky-god. And these ideas soon made it OK for humans to accept what they thought was the need for giving a just punishment to an evildoer, including killing the enemy. It can be said that this choice made them more animal-like than human. This thinking also led to all sorts of other unloving regulations put in place by the strongest to control the weakest. The concept was sold as a necessary government to keep order. It went on from there. The strongest tribe or nation was thought to have the strongest sky-god and went off to take over the weakest tribe or nation with weaker sky-gods. Worse, the strongest sky-god was kept appeased through sacrifices and ritual worship. Unfortunately, there never seemed to be enough of either one according to the priestly mediators who were developing their religions.

Oh, the loving patience of the Father for his children! And the grief felt for those so slow to learn – and for their victims! But loving forgiveness is the healing agent that not only sooths the victim when that victim is able to offer it unconditionally to the perpetrator. It also has the potential to finally heal that perpetrator. Unconditional forgiveness heals both ways. That is why you can say that any unconditional love expressed in human forgiveness and acceptance actually indicates the presence of the Father among us. Jesus taught as much. And I cannot say enough concerning this comforting message! An angry Abba seeking revenge? That is an oxymoron!  Vengance and love do not fit together. No such thing. No such Father. Upset? Sure! But wanting payback? No way! So much for the sacrifice on the cross idea!

Coming to know the presence of this greater consciousness and practicing it is what life is all about. Freely offering the Father’s generous acceptance to all, without conditions, and enjoying their surprised, thankful, and relieved response can really make your day. It is overwhelming to experience it, especially when they finally understand that they are not in your debt! Jesus thrived on teaching and living this. He even offered the Father’s acceptance and forgiveness to those still ignorant of it right up to his last breath.

That the good followers of Joshua ben Adam, followers who were so terribly disappointed by his early demise, returned so soon to the old payback justice and sacrificial ideas in an attempt to explain the horrible injustice that they had witnessed is not surprising. They merely redefined them by making Jesus the lamb and his blood the “perfect” payment that bought their salvation from an angry sky-god, that is, IF they could believe it and convince others of what they had concluded. They may not have intended to, but they actually turned Jesus’ comforting message of the Father’s presence into a lie. That is, they turned it into a conditional message. And for all of Paul’s writing about the Law (Torah) being a religion that was a burden too great for humanity to carry, he too overlooked Jesus’ message and invented a new religion centered around his “Christ.” They all finally concluded that we must depend upon the bloody payment of a mere Galilean sage who had insisted that he was only the “son of man,” the human one, and no more.

The follower’s conditional “faith” message was: IF you want to be saved from an eternal hell-fire at the judgment, then you must believe in Christ and his bloody payment shed for you as the perfect Son of God. But Jesus’ message is unconditional, with no ifs. It is a declaration that tells of the Father’s loving acceptance and forgiveness from the beginning of humanity’s existence. It is an all inclusive message. It is meant for all humanity, and it declares all to be sons and daughters of the Father. Yes, it anticipates good fruit, a behavioral change which treats others likewise, but it does not demand such a change or require a turn about (repentance) before you can be accepted and loved. The fruit comes as a result of being accepted by the Father. And acceptance is just the Father’s loving way – no payment or prerequisites required.

We need to remember that the followers were mostly uneducated and probably illiterate, so their ministry used only their oral skills to pass on their conclusions about the Galilean. And people listened to them because, after all, they had been his followers who had lived with him. Paul, the lawyer, was the first to make the connection of him being the “Christ” and the perfect sacrifice required by the Torah. But his letters were to the Grecian-Roman Gentiles, not the Jerusalem followers. Two generations later, the narrative writers (probably scribes) Mark, Matthew, and Luke (in that order, and non of whom were among Jesus’ original followers) filled in the hearsay accounts with their own connections to the known Jewish “scriptures” and Greek mythology. Still later, another writer who called himself John, perhaps having heard of the Apostle’s teachings, added another view, that of “believing in Jesus – God in the flesh.”

Several others also recorded the hearsay passed on to them, but those accounts were later banned from further distribution by the organized church. Some of these very early accounts were discovered hidden in clay jars in a cave in Upper Egypt in 1945. I think the most interesting one is The Gospel of Thomas which records no narrative at all but is only a collection of Jesus’ sayings. Surprisingly, Mark had used many of them as source material to place into his narrative. And since Matthew and Luke copied most of Mark, many of these sayings were included in their narratives as well. Thomas’ real name was Judas (not Iscariot, the Treasurer of the Jesus’ group). He went by his nickname, “Thomas” (the twin). Anyhow, he gathered this collection of Jesus’ sayings which do not encourage a “faith” – believe in Jesus – like John’s narrative did. Rather, the sayings encourage one to discover the Light within yourself, a consciousness given to us from the beginning to mirror the Father’s image of Love. Apparently John was aware of Thomas’ collection and therefore emphasized his disagreement by writing that Jesus was the Light, and in fact, God himself in disguise. Other accounts reveal still more interesting perspectives into the thoughts and opinions of the early followers of Jesus.

In an earlier post I wrote that scholars have shown how Mark connected Jesus’ death to the Temple’s destruction [a tip that Mark wrote his narrative after 70 A.D. and decades after Paul’s letters], Matthew connected him to the coming apocalypse as the returning Lord, Luke connected him to a virgin birth as the Son of God, and John connected him to “the Word from the beginning that was made flesh.” Quite a progression! And still later, the church connected him to much more than the narrative writers did. All this speculation about a sage who called himself the “son of man,” the human one, is way more than Jesus would ever have allowed to be said about himself, especially since it takes our eyes off the “pearl of great price” that he always described and lived, namely, the loving unconditional acceptance and forgiveness of the Father available to everyone.

Early Christians were greatly divided, not only because of their Jewish and Gentile/Greek backgrounds, but also because of persecutions, the Jewish-Roman wars, and their differing beliefs concerning their Christ. It was more than three centuries later that the Emperor Constantine recognized the need for organization, something the Romans were especially good at. And he saw the wisdom of having a belief system that could be the catalyst to work his magic of gaining better control of his kingdom. He had been worshiping many sky-gods, but he became a Christian and called together a council of bishops from around the empire. After many days of arguing over their belief sources, the Emperor finally decided to choose the four most well known copies as their gospels. These were to be their official “canon” narratives and all others were to be destroyed for their “heresy.” That was Christianity’s formal beginning. Its belief system continued to grow from there. Over the next two centuries, confessions were written and more books and letters were added to their official “bible.” Although they claimed that holy men were inspired to write the very words of God, some writers contradicted each other and interpretations of what was written continued to divide the church and still do to this day.

Over the centuries, Christianity has made the man from Galilee the center of their religion and their savior from personal sin, death, and hell. His cross quickly became the symbol that reminds them of their salvation. And it became their goal to convince the world of their religion and warn them of their eternal demise in a hellish fire if they refused to accept this “faith.” They have fought wars to force people into accepting their belief system and burned others alive, drowned them, and beheaded them for questioning it.

Unfortunately, Jesus’ comforting message of our generous Father’s “kingdom” turned loose within humanity has also been overlooked for almost two thousand years by the organized church. The result is that millions of humans still long for a comforting message to relieve their oppressive fears of death and an apocalyptic judgment. Others depress when thinking that all they have is this life and then you die. And believers join similar fears as those while worrying whether their “faith” will meet the high standards of their Christ when he returns as their Lord and Judge.

A friend reminded me that Ghandi was asked what the greatest hindrance was of Jesus’ message ever reaching the people of India. His response was, “Christianity!” Much more could be said about how Jesus’ followers missed an opportunity to really make a genuine change for the better in the world with Jesus’ message of the Father’s “kingdom” among us. But they seemed to be unable to do it outside the confines of religion. Perhaps the timing was not right yet. Like one writer put it, “a thousand years is but a day” for the Creator. Maybe now is a better time. Certainly many more technological advantages are in place to spread Jesus’ message of the Father’s presence around the world in a matter of seconds. Even the great prophet Isaiah got most of it correct when he wrote: “Comfort, Oh, Comfort my people says your God. Speak tenderly to them and tell them that their sad days are over. Their unloving ways are pardoned and I will bring them twice as many blessings than the troubles they had before. Shout it from the mountain tops. Tell everyone, ‘The Father’s ways are among us!'” – This is the Father’s way of justice! His righteous lives among us! Now let the joy in your heart bring a smile to your face, gentle words to your tongue, and kindness to your neighbor.

The “pearl of great price” is the Father’s accepting presence in us. Our consciousness of his unconditional love and forgiveness that continues to dwell in us makes it possible for us to be unconditionally human toward each other. It releases us from our fears and turns us loose to explore our individual interests as gifts to benefit humanity. We can enjoy making things better than we found them. And we can join in celebrating this freedom with all humanity. We can be accepting and inclusive and merciful and patient while understanding that those who may be offended by this message just do not know yet.

That is exactly the way it is. Individual humans are at their own place in their journey. Some are on track with grasping and imaging this unconditional love and others are off track while many others are still all over the place. But all are the Father’s children, his sons and his daughters, and all are worthy of acceptance for that reason alone. Children of the Father are not just the “believers” in some religious system. Always remember that. And the Father has even more surprises waiting for us all. Yes, his acceptance of all may be scandalous to many who are very religious, but who are we prodigal mud puppies to question his generous unconditional loving ways? Therefore, while we mirror his ways (his image) as best we can, here and now, we can also anticipate and dream of his surprising reality beyond the death that we must all go through. It is Jesus’ message of the accepting Father’s presence that makes death nothing but a door that opens wide to something better as we approach it – something we cannot begin to describe! Those who have had a near death experience know exactly what I mean.

Father, may the real good news be turned loose on earth. May hints of your reality become evident here and now as we image your ever-present consciousness, your acceptance, to all. And may we anticipate untold surprises that wait for us as your dear children!

With the hope that this is sent around the world,

Henry Hasse – March 3, 2012

Published in: on February 25, 2012 at 5:52 pm  Comments (1)  

Repentance Defined by Love

I had been searching for a better way to explain and understand the results of Abba’s unconditional acceptance. Thanks to a couple dear Australian friends, I now see it as a turn about resulting from being accepted, a fruit of acceptance; NOT: being accepted because of a turn about (as a repentance based on sacrifice).

Yes, this does indeed call for some mental reprogramming!

Zaccheus, a ruthless tax collector, is an excellent example of changing his behavior after Jesus invited and accepted him to the dinner table – table fellowship was a very generous act in those days. Being overwhelmed by such unconditional generosity – some have called it “paying it forward” – is what brings about REAL change. Abba’s justice is unconditional acceptance and it brings about REAL change. No sacrifice is involved.

Change that is the result of a threat or payback is merely superficial – a deception on the surface. And a threatening payback justice is actually unjust before Abba – as the prophets and Jesus proclaimed. Their message is the “pearl of great price” I have discovered hidden in the dunghill of human writings called scriptures which concentrate on a threatening payback justice, gruesome and bloody at that, and is thought to somehow satisfy their sky-god.

Consider these things as you approach the dark days of Lent. Seems it would be better to plan some parties to celebrate our acceptance by the Creator of all. And remember to invite all the “sinners” you know (those who refuse to be regulated by religious ideas).

Henry Hasse ~ February 17, 2012

Published in: on February 17, 2012 at 9:34 am  Leave a Comment  

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