Modern advertising has sold us on the virtue of instant solutions. In Christianity today this has simply translated to instant miracles. The God that answers by fire is the real God. If He chooses to answer in a still small voice, as He also does, the enthusiastic faithful would drown out His voice in the noisy ecstasy of feverish expectations. Every believer demandsirrationality from God. In the believer’s world this irrationality is interpreted as miracles.
Few believers appreciate the providence of nature as a formatted program of objective principles.
This is partly because the Christian God partly operates in bubbles and miracles and can cause flood to run uphill. And partly because we Christians today find it hard to use our brain. As Christians we have established exactly the same kind of worship system that killed Christ. This is the kind of worship system that knows all there is to know and have interpreted all there is to interpret about what God wants to see on earth. We have the entire scripture in a choke hold. Nobody can tell us anything more.
We find it hard to reason and so find it hard, near impossible as a matter of fact, to differentiate between religion and spirituality. Both can be seen, by a small stretch of the imagination, as software for us to use in experience. Spirituality accepts updates. Religion does not. And this is the heart of the blindness of religion.
In Christianity today millions of people find it easier to rattle off some statements and arguments reputedly made by often apparently ignorant men two thousand years ago, and accept these as inflexible divine inspired scripture. It was also two thousand years from Moses to Jesus Christ. You would find it hard to believe however that both Christ and Moses talked about the same God, if you listened to the arguments between Christ and the followers of Moses. The followers of Moses, as we all know, condemned and rejected Christ. The vibrancy, the value, in the light of Moses was ok for the weight it had to push in the days of Moses. By the days of Christ that vibrancy had lulled to codes of socio-cultural conducts that are void of the humane and immaterial values needed for the weight of the day. Christ tried to point this out to the religious minds of his time. We all know what happened. He got killed for it.
Christ was the update on the interpreted ministry of Moses as it had evolved in his day. Christ represented the movement – the motion – that was needed in every religion to keep human development from stagnation. But you see, religion itself is stagnation, in its institutionalized forms. That was why when he was around Christ did all he could to keep away from the religious creeds and norms of his people. Christ recognised religion for what in reality it is and kept his distance. Millions of his reputed followers today have no idea, and bear no recognition whatsoever, of what He was doing, really. There is no practical awareness between what spirituality stands for, and what religion stands for, among Christians today. The simple message of universal love for which Christ was brutally murdered have evolved today into an essentially empty and self righteous label referred to as being born again, socio-culturally maintained by the lure of sure and shining miracles. You would hardly find two Christian denominations that believe this label means and implies the same thing. You see, that is why there are these denominations in the first place.
Religion does not accept updates. And as religions go Christianity is a shining, and miraculous, example. The sample Christian today is not ready to question any of his received creeds, even when there exists the most rational grounds to do so.
Religion always kills spirituality. This is as much a human tragedy as it is a blindness of distorted intelligence.
The Christian mind today is of course a religious mind. It is extremely hard for the religious mind to make it to heaven, wherever and whatever you imagine heaven is. It is the final good place, isn’t it? This is simply because getting to the good place involves doing good, to everybody. The religious mind does not contemplate good happening to the non-religious mind. This is judging others, one of the things that Christ explicitly forbade. Yet, no religious mind can operate without a significant level of in-group out-group discrimination.
Universal love, what I consider the real message of Christ, is actually selflessness. In practice the operation of selflessness is always restricted by the self righteous separatism with which most religions deal with human experience. This self righteous separatism is what every religion believes makes it special. Every religion is the only true religion to its followers, remember. The creeds are so erected to link the founder of the religion directly between God, or nirvana, and the followers. All others are excluded from this soothing arrangement. And only this particular scheme, set up by the followers, involving each religious founder and the followers is the true one. It is the same psychology that makes both Christ and Mohamed the only true and last saviours of mankind for their sheep. Separatism makes each religion special. It also makes each religion blind.
Objective principles govern existence. You reap what you sow. When we stopped being apes our new awareness caused us to recognize moral and ethics as a socio-culturally desirable tool. Subjective principles govern religions. When you stop loving and start judging your neighbour you have automatically halted before the movement of spirituality. In Christianity Christ did not say love your neighbour only if he is from your tribe and religion. The God we are selling to the world is simply not the God of Christ.
We say God is good but we mean He is good only to those we consider to be good. The religious mind finds it extremely difficult to imagine God doing any good – in the end – to the religion’s unbeliever. The truth is that no human being has enough wisdom to make this judgment, probably why God warned we Christians about making it. Christ said he would abandon the ninety nine sheep and run after the lost one. Even though he is the good shepherd we hardly emulate him in this with regards to our actions, probably because nothing comes handier than judgment. It is a joy to indulge in it, especially if we also imagine punishment for our so called enemies.
But the joy is illusionary, like the joy of narcotics. The self righteous cocksureness of religious creed that brings on judgment and condemnation of others is also illusionary. We can see it clearly looking back 2000 years at the stories of Christ and the Sanhedrin. We are however blind to it when it comes to our religion and our neighbours today.
The religious mind rejected Christ. Today it is really a fumble of wisdom to say that it is only the religious mind that can form his true follower, as is the attitude of most Christians today. Christ was never a Christian. The label called ‘Christianity’ does not mean anything. We may claim and answer that we are Christians but I do not see how that, and that alone, brings us any closer to Christ’s heart than the guy out there who is actually doing the things He talked about. Whatever brand of God we are selling in our denominations does not matter. What matters is the brand of follower God finally marks us out to be in the end. Did we walk right up to the altar and pronounce our self-righteousness? Did we pause outside the door in sober reflection, wondering perhaps if we are worthy to enter His presence at all?
All the social machinery of flamboyant Christianity with which we sell God to the world today might appear as if they are working, just the same way the social machinery of the Sanhedrin’s creeds appear to be working in the days of Christ for his people. Maybe it is time to consider that just because it appears to be working fine does not mean that there is nothing wrong with the sale points.