Thursday, March 21, 2019

The message and not just the messenger

As we have seen in 'Miracle', the greatest miracle of Jesus is himself (being fully man and fully God at the same time). Also, Jesus had 'skin in the game' (he suffered for us and still suffers with us ; the resurrected  Christ is the crucified Christ as he retained his wounds). To me, Jesus experiencing human experiences and emotions (suffering, joy, fear, frustration, love etc.) was (and is) essential for bringing about reconciliation between humans and God (by understanding gained through shared experiences). So, focusing just on the teachings of Jesus without focusing on Jesus himself is to miss the essential point! Similarly, practicing Christianity without a personal relationship with Jesus Christ is 'hollow'.  Jesus is the message and not just the messenger (remember, he is supposed to be the 'logos' - the Word of God - and not a prophet).

Monday, August 27, 2018

Avoidable distractions

It is said that the main purpose of understanding other religions/traditions is to gain new perspectives on one’s own religion. Of course, this works much better after one has understood one’s own tradition at some level of depth. To me, this has been the main benefit of reading Rumi. For example, one of the ideas about Jesus Christ that touched me very deeply (that the greatest miracle of Jesus is himself) was triggered by reading Rumi (see Miracle).

Recently, I came across the following words from Rumi (From the story ‘Moses Learns a Lesson’ from the book ‘Rumi: Tales to live by’). "I have bestowed on everyone a way of believing and worshipping according to his understanding and temperament. Praying and worship is a kindness I have bestowed on my creatures so they may be tied to me with chords of love. The Hindu worships me in his own way, and the Jew in his. Let them pray any way they know. Do not seek rules or methods of worship, but love me however you can!"

Considering that there are so many divisions in Christianity that often fight among themselves based on differences in rules and methods of worship, and thereby creating distractions that lead away from the core of Christianity, this is indeed a highly useful perspective!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

The way

One of the verses in the Bible that I have had difficulty in relating to is John 14:6, in which Jesus says “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  Does it mean that being a Christian is a necessary condition for salvation? While I have never had any serious intention of following any religion except Christianity, the ‘exclusivity that seemed to be implied by this statement made me uncomfortable as I have been brought up in an environment that respects other religions and also encourages learning from them (See Celebrating Onam in the Church). I have seen many very noble and pious people in other religions. Does this exclusivity mean that they are on the ‘wrong’ path? While I still haven’t fully resolved this (and maybe, I never will, thank God for that!), of late some ideas have started evolving in my mind.

The term ‘way’ means a path or a route. So, it becomes imperative to find out what is the way that is Jesus Christ. To me, 'the greatest miracle of Jesus is himself' (see Miracle) – the very act of being fully man and fully God. I think that God became human so that humans have a route to be one with God. So the life, love, rejection, acceptance, frustration, fellowship, loneliness, joy, sorrow, passion, death and resurrection of Jesus on earth is in a way a 'path-breaking' activity, establishing a new road, a new level of understanding and a new relationship between humans and God.I also think that ‘being in Christ’ is not necessarily the same as being a Christian (in the sense of being part of the Christian religion). 

May be, it is an invitation to be more like Jesus (fully human and fully divine at the same time) and not meant to be an instruction to follow any particular belief system about Jesus Christ. As we have seen in 'From belief to experience and faith', a 'hand me down' belief system could be a big impediment to knowing Christ. For most of us (except those who have had a ‘direct experience’), the Christ we know is essentially the ‘Christ in the Bible’ (a picture that can capture only some aspects of Christ and that is also subject to the limitations of context, language and interpretation) and not the ‘real Christ’ or even the ‘historical Christ’!
Hence the highest understanding that I am capable of at this point on this matter is that by being fully man and fully God, Jesus has created the royal road to salvation for us! Now, I am not yet sure about all the different manners in which we can walk on this path though I have an inkling  that nurturing the both the humane and divine in us won't be a bad idea! Also, as Jesus himself said that 'God is love' that is probably the meeting point between the humane and the divine!