Updated: Feb 5
Being a Christian seems to be the easiest choice of religion anywhere. It is easy to be born into a religion, where the child automatically inherits the religion of the parents, but admit it: being Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, et al means some hardcore memorization of books and religious history. A Christian: sprinkle some water on the baby’s forehead and teach him or her to say, “I believe in Jesus.”
Simple. Of course Christianity wasn’t always so cheap a cost, in order to become a member. The first “Christians” were actually Jews. Their religion was a combination of birth (a Jewish mother gives birth to Jews) and education of Mosaic Law. What we call Judaism was the religion of every disciple-Apostle and all their religious practices and rituals were Jewish. The fact the Jews kicked those out of their synagogues because they knew Jesus of Nazareth had fulfilled the prophecies of a Messiah (in Greek a Christos), they did not sit around and say, “Hey guys, we need to be different, so we need to think up some different practices and rituals. First off, rather than call our meeting place a synagogue, how about we call it a church? All agreed say “Aye.”‘
No new religion was created, which is why Jesus said, “I have not come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill that.” Fulfilling means do not forget about the FIRST TESTAMENT. Christianity is actually not a religion. It is demeaned by being reduced to that level of meaning. Christianity is a way of life and a way of life is MUCH harder than being a member of a religion – no matter which religion that is. It is harder because to be a true Christian one has to be righteous, and no human being alive has that ability without God’s help. The hard part is then proving one’s devotion to God. Once that proof is “in the pudding,” then all the learning stuff becomes a “no brainer.”
The reason is the Big Brain stops getting in the way of righteousness. Proof of devotion to God means God sends the Holy Spirit with His Son Jesus and the soul of Jesus merges with a devotee’s soul, so Jesus is reborn in a new body of flesh (the meaning of “in the name of”), and presto – one is led by the Christ Mind (the Savior’s ideas of righteousness) the rest of one’s mortal life, one’s soul assured of life everlasting in heaven because of that sacrifice to be righteous in the flesh. In the times of Jesus, there were three kinds of Jews: the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Essenes. You never read about the Essenes. They must have been like unicorns, then huh? Or, maybe Jesus was an Essene? Maybe Jesus was born into that branch of Jewish religious thought, rather than one that had proved themselves as failures to Yahweh?
Today, there are three types of Christians: thou, those holier than thou, and those who are Saints. Only one branch of that “religion” are capable of righteousness. That branch does require baptism, but not the sprinkling with water kind. The baptism that brings the soul of Jesus to be joined (wash clean) with the soul of a dirty sinner is invisible and cannot be watched by a crowd of people. You don’t read much about Saints these days, even though many churches are named after them. Saints are like Essenes, as elusive as unicorns. As far as the thou and the holier than thou are concerned, those are clearly seen in the pewples (thou) and the podium pounders today (the ones wearing holy robes and turning tap water into holy water and merlot wine into holy wine). They actually mirror the Jews back in Jesus’ day, who knew little of value and the Pharisees who knew less, with the separation being the robes worn and the scrolls handled. The Pharisees stood on the steps of the Temple of Jerusalem and taught like braggarts, or they watched over the rabbis who taught the Temple’s politics in the synagogues. The priests, ministers, pastors and preachers today are just like them. Everyone of them, then and now, love to stand up and say, “I know what is good, and you better listen to me!”
Of course, that kind of talk does nothing to make anyone actually know how to do good. Talk is cheap, which is why Christianity is like all the other religions: they talk a good game, but the world makes it so hard to do good. All the ones who love the attention of being holier than thou cannot teach anyone (much less themselves) how to lead a righteous life. If they could, they would and should. Alas, they cannot.
Still, if you don’t practice what you preach, then you deserve to be called out. No one likes being called out, so there was a whole lot of stoning and crucifying going on back then. There is likewise a whole lot of cold shouldering anyone who says, “You’re going the wrong way!” Ask the sandwich board guys from the sixties who though the atomic bomb meant the end was nigh. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. We know the world is doomed, but what can we do about it? Nada. So, get a life and have some fun before the Titanic sinks.”
The first Christians did not spread faster and wider than some Chinese biological warfare ‘accident’ [see “Coronavirus pandemic”] because they went around telling people they were holier than thou. They were indeed walking in the true robes of righteousness (invisible ones), but they went to touch the hearts of seekers who wanted to stop saying “I believe” and have true FAITH. If they ever took positions above those who they talked with, it was so their voices carried and more ears could hear the truth. It was that TRUTH spoken that pierced the hearts of believers and let them see themselves in the light of “thou pewples” and realize they had to do more to serve God. Seeing yourself in the mirror of Scripture is how one can tell one’s eyes have opened and one has seen the light of truth.
When Peter and John (of Zebedee) walked up to the Temple gate and a lame beggar held out his hand saying, “Alms for the poor,” Peter told him, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” (Acts 3:6) He held out his hand to help the man get up off the ground and stand as an equal to Peter and John (and all the others filing in). Today, if someone is wheeled into a church named after a saint and allowed to park in the aisle, the priest simply says, “Stay there brother (or sister) and I will bring you something to nibble on and a sip of wine.”
Simply from that one example, which is read to the slimmest of attendees on Wednesday of Easter Week, there is no longer any priest, pastor, preacher or minister that says, “And that friends is how useless the church has become. You just don’t see Saints like Peter and John walking around any more. For that reason, I cannot heal the lame, the sick, or the demonically possessed. ”
No leader of a congregation ever says, “I am that lame man in the story in Acts. I hold out my plate every service, begging ‘Alms for this church to pay the bills.’ I desire no ability to stand on my own two feet and go out into the world healing people with the Holy Spirit. Because of that lack, I have no Holy Spirit in me, so I have none to give.”
Think about that confession: No Holy Spirit means no Jesus reborn; Nos Jesus reborn means no Mind of Christ; and No Mind of Christ means not a Christian. Christianity today is like a free membership in a fitness club, where no one is ever expected to workout.
In the example of Jesus seeing the Pharisee and the publican (tax collector) entering the Temple to pray (Luke 18:9-14), which is the Gospel reading in Year C, after Pentecost on the Sunday called proper twenty five, there is no preacher, priest, minister or pastor who will say, “Friends, just like that Pharisee stood alone and bragged, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector,’ you will notice how I also stand alone, raised above you all, saying ‘Thank you God that I don’t have to sit down there with the ignorant masses, even though I am as ignorant as they are.”
They all, instead, preach about how that poor ole tax collector [YOU, not them] is “justified before God” by admitting his sins. The message is: “Do not give up hope and be humble.”
Hope springs eternal when one knows salvation is one the way. Humbly repenting one’s sins … that never stop … offers only the hope of not crossing the line of God’s limits to forgiveness, entering into the realm of eternal damnation.
Think about that. Telling someone to be humble is like saying, “I am humble, but you are not. Na na na na na.” The poor ole tax collector was sinning, just like the Pharisee, but the publican felt guilty for his sins. Both men went into the Temple to pray because neither expected anything to change through prayer, because everything ALWAYS stayed the same. The Pharisee was saying, “Thank you ME for having answered all MY prayers and given me wealth, power, and influence, so I will always be rich.” The tax collector was saying, “If there is really a God, PLEASE SHOW ME HOW TO STOP stealing from others in the name of business so I can have some degree of wealth, power, and influence over those who hate my guts.”
The paradox is the religion of Christianity is the one that stands before every other religion and says, “We are holy and you are not! Na na na na na. You do not believe in Jesus Christ and we do, so we are going to heaven and you are going to hell.” Just like the Jews of Jesus’ day started stoning Apostles because they told them they were going the wrong way, how do you think the Muslims feel about people pretending to be righteous being no more than the pot that called the kettle black. Muslims want to kill Christians to shut them up … and Christians are not IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST. Saints (like the few unicorns that stay hidden away with Bigfoot) do not enter the arenas of politics, technology, media, military, or anything that is not righteous.
As long as nobody is filled with the Holy Spirit (like Jesus and like those who became Jesus reborn: SAINTS), nobody shows anybody how to walk the walk and talk the talk of true righteousness.
Telling people how to see the mirror of SELF in Scripture is the hand reaching out to the lame saying, “All I offer you is the TRUTH in the name of Jesus Christ. Take it and eat. Digest it. Let the truth cause you to grow. Then get off your ass and rise. Drink from the river of living water that God offers through His Son and be reborn.”