I call myself a Christian because I think of myself as a student of Jesus, who was a teacher and spiritual mystic. I have found his teachings to be a powerful path to connection with the Infinite Mystery of the Universe. I find the stories of his life an inspiration and a call to act as a presence of love and non-violent resistance in a corrupt world. I love that he took the religion of his day and turned it on its head.
I am also a Jew. I was born Jewish, and I respect the deep mystery of God that Judaism teaches (which is the same mystery Jesus taught). I do not think being Jewish and being Christian are mutually exclusive. It certainly wasn’t a problem for Jesus and his earliest followers, every single one of them Jewish. Remember, Jesus didn’t consider himself a Christian—there was no such thing then. Jesus was a faithful Jew, attempting to act with integrity to God in every action he took. No matter what we call ourselves today, and no matter what we think about the life and divinity of Jesus, that’s a powerful message in its own right. Integrity. The world could use a lot more of it.
Jesus completely disorganized the religion of his day, wresting control of people’s relationship with the Divine from high priests, all members of a single tribe—religious monarchs. Jesus saw the error of this system and called it out. He then proceeded to tell people they could experience God personally, without the need for any sort of mediating priest (which makes the fact that hundreds of years later Jesus is turned into a mediating priest all the more ironic). Jesus knew that in order for the world to change, people had to change. He also knew that people rarely turn a new leaf on their own, but that through God, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26).
If we are truly going to call ourselves people of God (whether we use the term Christian, Jew, Muslim or non-affiliated), then our task is to simply be love. Jesus never insisted people recite creeds or take oaths or believe certain things about his nature. All he ever insisted on was that people love. Love God, and love each other as unconditionally as God loves us. That’s a powerful religion for both the 1st and 21st Centuries.
Prayer: I want to feel your presence as deeply as Jesus did, Lord. Talk to me the way you spoke to Moses. Guide me the way you guided Abraham. Reveal your spirit to me the way you did to Mohammed. Make me yours, intimately, and I will be a light or peace and love to this tortured world. Amen.