By Kim Michaels
Is your Christian faith based on the rock of inner understanding or the shifting sand of man-made assumptions?
“Today, many people have opened their minds to a higher understanding of spiritual matters than what is found in traditional doctrines. Many more people can bear the higher truth, and therefore Jesus has appeared to give us that truth.”
For many mainstream Christians, the following assumptions are an integral part of their faith, yet what if these assumptions were out of touch with the reality of what Jesus taught? Would you want to know?
If so, let us take a look at these assumptions:
- If I met Jesus today – or if I had been alive 2,000 years ago – I would instantly recognize him as the Living Christ.
- If I recognized the Living Christ – even if he appeared in an unexpected form – I would accept him and heed his word.
- If Jesus walked into my church today, he would approve of everything he saw.
- If Jesus really could speak to us today, he would never say anything that contradicted or went beyond the doctrines, beliefs and practices of my church.
Unfortunately, there is virtually no scriptural support for any of these assumptions. In fact, if you read the scriptures carefully, you will see that Jesus made a deliberate effort to contradict all of these assumptions (most Jews had the exact same assumptions about their religion). Jesus deliberately sought to shake people out of their rigid and comfortable approach to religion. Let us compare each assumption to what the scriptures actually show us.
Assumption No. 1: If I met Jesus today I would instantly recognize him as the Living Christ.
Hindsight is always 20/20. Christians have spent 2,000 years building a culture around the person of Jesus. If you have grown up in this culture, it is natural for you to assume that you would instantly recognize Jesus. After all, he always appeared in perfectly clean white robes with a halo around his head, so how could you fail to see that he was not like other men?
Yet the scriptures abundantly show that most of the people who met Jesus in the flesh did not recognize him as the Messiah or as the Living Christ. Why? Because he looked like any other man. That is why it was necessary that Judas betray him—the soldiers who came to arrest him could not tell him apart from his disciples.
Jesus himself made it clear that most people cannot recognize the Living Christ:
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew, Chapter 16)
In other words, “flesh and blood” cannot reveal the Living Christ. What is “flesh and blood?” Could it be the human mind, the human state of consciousness, which Paul called the “carnal mind?” (1Corinthians 3:3) What if most people are in a state of consciousness where they simply cannot recognize the Living Christ?
But surely, those who are truly religious and who have faithfully followed the doctrines and beliefs of the “only true” Christian church” (however you define that church) would instantly recognize the Living Christ. If so, how come those who had followed the doctrines and beliefs of the Jewish religion (which they considered the only true religion) did not recognize the Living Christ? These were the very people – the scribes, lawyers, Pharisees, Sadducees and temple priests – who plotted against Jesus and eventually got him crucified.
What will it take for a human being to recognize the Living Christ? What if we need to raise our consciousness? What if we need to follow Paul’s call to:
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5)
Perhaps only when we allow the mind of Christ to be in us can we recognize the Living Christ? Incidentally, one of the main themes on this website is that you need to put on the mind of Christ. There are numerous teachings and techniques for how to accomplish this goal.
Assumption No. 2: If I recognized the Living Christ – even if he appeared in an unexpected form – I would accept him and heed his word.
We have just seen that many of the most religious people of his time did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah. The reason was that Jesus appeared in an unexpected form. Perhaps the Living Christ always appears in an unexpected form?
Perhaps this is part of the challenge—will people be willing to look beyond their preconceived opinions in order to recognize the Living Christ? Will they be willing to leave behind those opinions to accept the Living Christ and heed his (or her) words?
Consider how Jesus gathered his disciples. Imagine that you are walking down the street and an intense-looking man comes up to you and says, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19). Would you “straightway” leave everything to follow him?
The scriptures make it abundantly clear that many people heard Jesus teach, saw him perform miracles and healings, yet they were not willing to leave their familiar circumstances, beliefs or lifestyle in order to truly follow the words of the Living Christ. Why? Because to follow Christ you have to be willing to leave behind everything!
You have to be willing to leave your nets, which could be interpreted to include your existing religious beliefs. That is why so many of the most religious people were unwilling to follow Jesus. They were too attached to the beliefs and practices – the nets – with which they were familiar.
Is it hard to see that in today’s world many Christians are also attached to their beliefs, practices and lifestyle? Is it hard to imagine that if the Living Christ appeared today and said something that was outside of mainstream doctrines, then many Christians would reject him and refuse to heed his words?
This leads us to the next assumption.
Assumption No. 3: If Jesus walked into my church today, he would approve of everything he saw.
If you read the scriptures with an open mind, it is not hard to see that this could be a very dangerous assumption. Jesus did not make a habit of agreeing with the religious authorities of his time. He repeatedly challenged the scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the lawyers and even the temple priests. Is there really any reason to believe that he would agree with the religious authorities of our time, even though they call themselves Christians and claim to be representatives of Christ on Earth?
Let us look at the scriptures. One of the most startling rebukes of the religious establishment was given in Matthew 5:20:
For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
This is a rather shocking statement because the scribes and Pharisees considered themselves as belonging to the people who were guaranteed entry into the kingdom of Heaven. What basis did they have for this certainty? They believed they were doing everything right, and they based it on the fact that they knew every letter of the outer law and that they were following it—to the letter. They could recite the scriptures, they observed all the rules, they never committed acts that were defined as sinful and they participated in all the religious rituals. What more could be necessary to gain entry into the kingdom?
Well, according to Jesus something more is indeed necessary. Jesus repeatedly rebuked those who did their alms in public (Matthew 6:1), who prayed in public (Matthew 6:5) and who in other ways overtly displayed their devotion. What did Jesus want? Consider Matthew, Chapter 15:
15 Then answered Peter and said unto him, Declare unto us this parable.
16 And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding?
So Jesus obviously wanted his followers to have understanding of his teachings, but he did not want them to simply recite outer scriptures. He wanted them to truly internalize his teachings and turn it into deep, inner faith. Why isn’t it enough to follow outer rules and doctrines; why do you need inner qualities before you can enter the kingdom? Perhaps it has something to do with where the kingdom is located. Consider Luke, Chapter 17:
20 And when he was demanded of the Pharisees, when the kingdom of God should come, he answered them and said, The kingdom of God cometh not with observation:
21 Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you.
How many of today’s Christian churches have built a culture that is strikingly similar to the culture of the scribes and Pharisees? How many Christians seriously believe that they will automatically be saved, because they belong to the only true Christian church, they believe its doctrines, they follow its rules and they participate in its rituals? How many believe they will automatically be saved by the mere act that they have declared Jesus Christ to be their Lord and Savior?
Yet what if these people are dancing around a golden calf of their own making, a human idol that is out of alignment with the reality of Jesus’ teachings? According to this idol, the key to entering the kingdom is to observe all the outer rules, so how could they possibly miss the kingdom. They can miss it because they continue to look for it outside themselves.
If the kingdom of God is within us, how could we possibly hope to enter that kingdom by performing outer acts? Does it not seem logical that we need to perform inner acts; we need to change our attitude to life and our approach to religion, we need to gain true understanding and we need to allow perfect love to cast out our fears (1John 4:18). We need to stop focusing on the outer aspects of religion and find an inner approach to religion. We need to:
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3).
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: (Philippians 2:5).
In other words, perhaps the real, inner message that Jesus came to bring is that the true way to enter the kingdom of God – the inner kingdom – is to raise our state of consciousness by putting on the wedding garment. Unless we put on this wedding garment – which might be the mind of Christ – we shall be bound hand and foot (by our own false beliefs) and cast into outer darkness (Matthew 22:13). This darkness exists in our own minds in the form of a false sense of righteousness that causes us to focus on outer things instead of truly internalizing the mind of Christ.
So if you carefully read the scriptures and look at how often Jesus challenged the religious establishment, are you still sure he would approve of everything that is going on in your church? Or are you open to the idea that over the past 2,000 years Christianity might have deviated from the true, inner message of Jesus? Are you perhaps open to the idea that mainstream Christianity has replaced Jesus’ inner message with an outer message, a man-made doctrine and culture that is beautiful on the outside but might be full of dead men’s bones and therefore be unsuited as a vehicle for getting you to the kingdom?
Assumption No. 4: If Jesus really could speak to us today, he would never say anything that contradicted or went beyond the doctrines, beliefs and practices of my church.
If this assumption was true, then why did Jesus systematically challenge the doctrines, beliefs and practices of the Jewish religion? Was it only because that religion was not Christian, and therefore Christianity can never fall into the same trap of becoming rigid and focused on outer rituals? Or was Jesus actually challenging a universal problem that can be seen in most religions, namely that religions tend to gradually become more rigid and stifled? Was jesus challenging the Jewish religion precisely because it had replaced the inner path to a higher state of consciousness with rigid adherence of outer doctrines and rituals?
Could it be that all religions have a tendency to become rigid, and then they begin to advocate blind faith and a blind adherence to outer rituals? Is that why Jesus said:
12 Then came his disciples, and said unto him, Knowest thou that the Pharisees were offended, after they heard this saying?
13 But he answered and said, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up.
14 Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch (Matthew, Chapter 15).
Is it possible that Jesus challenged the religious authorities because they had set themselves up as the only link between man and God? The Jewish culture was based on the belief that the only road to salvation was through the outer religion and the priests who controlled that religion. Do you see parallels to what some Christian churches claim today and what many Christians believe?
Jesus did and said many things to challenge this culture of blindly following the leaders of an outer religion. For example, he healed a man on the sabbath (Matthew 12:10) and allowed his disciples to pluck corn on the sabbath (Matthew 12:1). Yet his most powerful challenge to the religious establishment was the seemingly simple statement that the kingdom of God is within us. This statement challenged the very foundation of the power of the outer religion. It states simply that we don’t need an outer church and an outer church hierarchy to reach God. Why not? How could you need something outside yourself to get to the kingdom of God when the kingdom of God is within you?
So is it realistic to believe that if the real, living Jesus Christ were to speak to us today, his every word would conform to the doctrines and beliefs of mainstream Christian churches?
Or is it more likely that he would challenge those churches for having set themselves up as the only link between man and God and the only road to salvation? Would he not challenge any church for taking away “the key of knowledge” as the lawyers had done (Luke 11:52)?
If you are open to any of these ideas, then study this website and allow the real, living Jesus Christ to tell you what you need to know in this age—even if it contradicts or goes beyond the doctrines you have been brought up to believe represent the only truth. Truly, only that which is based on the mind of Christ can be truth, yet it is a Living Truth that is never static or rigid. The reason being that as we expand our understanding, Jesus can give us a deeper truth than he could give us 2,000 years ago. Don’t believe this? Just listen to Jesus’ own words:
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. (John 16:12)
Today, many people have opened their minds to a higher understanding of spiritual matters than what is found in traditional doctrines. Many more people can bear the higher truth, and therefore Jesus has appeared to give us that truth. So allow Jesus to give you the Living Word and the Living Truth that he wants all people to have in this age. Receive his cup of truth and understanding—and drink ye all of it!
Copyright © 2009 by Kim Michaels