By Kim Michaels
One possible definition is that Christ is a principle or Presence that faces us with the necessity to make a choice.
- Do we reject Christ and stay where we are comfortable?
- Do we accept Christ and allow Christ’s Presence to take us higher, even to take us beyond where we thought it possible for us to go?
When we read the scriptures, it is clear that Jesus had an uncanny ability to force people to accept or reject him. Some people revered him as the coming Messiah, while others denounced him as a tool of the devil. If one takes a look at our own time, one can see that this ability has not diminished after 20 centuries. Some people see Jesus as the only son of God, while others deny that he existed at all. Some spend a lifetime seeking to convert everyone to Christianity, while others spend a lifetime seeking to destroy people’s faith in Christianity. In between we find a wide range of reactions, which demonstrates that when people actually take a look at Christ, it is difficult to remain indifferent.
It is as if Jesus still has a mysterious Presence in the world, a Presence that confronts people with the necessity to accept Christ or to deny Christ. Yet what does it mean to accept Christ? Is it simply a matter of joining an outer organization, or did Jesus himself have a far more profound and multi-facetted understanding of what he wanted from his disciples?
Throughout history, many people have attempted to define who Christ is and what he stands for, but based on the fact that – after 20 centuries – there is still no consensus in sight, one must conclude that this is no straightforward matter. It seems as if Christ has another uncanny ability, namely an unwillingness to be defined, a resistance toward being put into any man-made mental boxes. Thus, we have already arrived at one example of how Christ forces us to make a choice:
- Will you take the approach that it is easy to define Christ? You can do this by accepting a particular church and its doctrines, but you can also do it by accepting a secular or scientific view that denounces the historicity of Jesus or the validity of his teachings (and all religion).
- Will you open your mind to the realization that it is no simple matter to define Christ? Are you willing to search for a deeper understanding of Jesus’ message than what you have now? Will you consider that perhaps it is not even possible to define Christ because Christ is like a stream – a stream of consciousness – that is meant to flow continually? You can dam up the stream, but the inevitable result is that the water becomes stale, and you cut yourself off from the River of Life.
The net effect of the first approach is that you accept a particular image of Christ as complete and infallible, and thus you inevitably close your mind to anything beyond that view. When you take the second approach, you open your mind to new ideas about Christ, meaning your life becomes an ongoing process of increasing your understanding—a journey of discovery. The first approach will prevent you from going beyond the image of Christ you have now, whereas the second approach opens the possibility that you might discover ideas that will help you live a richer and more complete life—what Jesus talked about when he said:
I am come that all might have life and that they might have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)
This statement is a typical example of the choice between a simple or a more nuanced interpretation. For Jesus was clearly talking to the living, so why did he say that he had come to give life to those who were already alive—at least physically? Did Jesus have a deeper definition of what it means to be truly alive? More on this later in the book.
This book is not an attempt to create a new mental box, put Christ into it and then argue that this box is better than all of the other boxes out there. It is an attempt to probe the mysteries, the enigma, that the Presence of Christ presented – and is still presenting – to the world. It is an attempt to look beyond traditional mental boxes and reach for the ever-flowing stream of consciousness that Jesus called “Life.” And it will not seek to force any final or infallible conclusion upon the reader.
How do we even begin to probe the deeper mysteries of Christ?
Consider the fact that 500 years ago most people in the so-called civilized world believed the Earth was flat and that it was the center of a very small universe. These beliefs formed a mental box that served as people’s foundation for how they looked at everything, including themselves, God and the world. Obviously, we know today that medieval people based their world view on erroneous beliefs, so we can see how this limited them in many ways.
Now consider that we today also have a mental box that forms a filter for how we look at everything. Surely, we have a much greater knowledge about many aspects of life than people had 500 years ago, but has this simply created another mental box? And although the box is clearly larger, does it still limit our understanding of God, the world and our relationship with both?
Is it possible that Jesus came to set us free from all man-made mental boxes and give us a higher truth:
31. If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32. And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Is it possible that Jesus offers us a way to escape all limiting beliefs and instead find a higher world view, one that is not based on human opinions but is based on a recognition of what is real and what is unreal? Is it possible that Jesus left us a trail of clues hidden in hid own words, a trail that leads us to the truth he came to impart to us?
This book is based on the premise that there are deeper mysteries to be unlocked – or decoded – by looking beyond a traditional interpretation of Jesus’ words. The basic premise is that humankind’s knowledge has been expanded tremendously since Jesus’ words were spoken—and that this gives us an opportunity to find a deeper meaning than what could be uncovered in the past. After all, Jesus himself said:
I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. (John 16:12)
Did Jesus recognize that because of humankind’s limited knowledge, the people of his own time could not understand the fullness of his message? Did he foresee that there would come a time when knowledge had advanced to the point where people could unlock the deeper understanding? And did he possibly encode hidden messages in his words, messages that are meant to cross the span of centuries and unlock a higher understanding in the minds of today’s people?
This, then, is our quest: To decode the timeless messages hidden in the words of Christ. To investigate whether Jesus has a message that is relevant and useful for today’s spiritual people. A message that could not be decoded in previous ages, but is now has the potential to open the minds of those who are willing to see Christ as the ever-flowing stream of consciousness.
Again, let it be made clear that it is not the purpose of this book to create a closed mental box. This book will not seek to get all readers to agree with a particular view of Christ but will leave many things open to individual interpretations. Yet given the incredible variety of beliefs about Jesus that are present in the world, it is obvious that it simply is not possible to write a book that will be acceptable to everyone. Jesus is clearly one of the most controversial topics in the modern world.
In recognition of the diversity in people’s existing beliefs about Jesus – and out of respect for the reader’s right to determine his or her personal viewpoint – this book will take an upfront approach. Instead of seeking to gradually draw people into the book’s viewpoints, it will be very open about the choices upon which the book is based. That way, the reader can quickly determine if he or she agrees with the premises of the book and make a decision about whether to stop reading or go on.
Let it be made clear then that this book is based on the decision to seek for a deeper understanding of Christ than what is offered by mainstream Christian churches. Thus, the entire purpose of the book is to probe beyond the mental boxes defined by mainstream Christianity. It is easy to predict that for some readers this approach will elicit mixed reactions, namely reactions with a clear ingredient of fear. Thus, we see that the book must start with an open discussion about the role of fear in religion.
Copyright © 2009 Kim Michaels