|After his death, someone proclaimed that Jesus died for our sins. Further, we were told that his death meant that all those who believed in him would be forgiven their sins. After all, how can you not forgive others their prior ignorance, or the misunderstandings and myths they were taught to believe in by teachers and loved ones who didn’t know any better themselves?
But if you really want to know why Jesus died, I will tell you it was the consciousness of the time and place in which he lived — a consciousness he rejected. It was a state of consciousness perpetuated by fear and silence in the face of corruption and injustice that kept all people of his time in spiritual poverty.
That state of consciousness still exists today, right here, right now. A consciousness that silently proclaims… live by and accept my rules and reality… or suffer the consequences.
The sin for which he died was the sin of succumbing to, or making choices that perpetuate, one’s subservience to undeserved power, hypocrisy, and injustice — the sin, if you will, of denying yourself the right to be yourself.
The story of Jesus speaks for itself, eloquently in fact, as to what his life was about. As blatant and clear as his message was, it is all but lost in the ruins of what others teach in his name. His life was about changing the state of consciousness he rejected. It was about freedom — something he was willing to die for, and did die for… the freedom to hear the truth, to speak the truth, and the freedom to live the truth as one understands it to be… the freedom to be yourself and to fulfill the responsibilities that come with freedom… including having the humility to know and/or to think you know something, without forcing others to believe as you do; for all people have an equal right to hold and express their truth as long as they don’t impose that truth on anyone else. You are free if you are not afraid to be who you are; and free if you are not afraid to let others be who they are… providing neither you, nor they, are engaged in forcibly trying to change or enslave anyone else. Freedom comes with responsibilities.
Jesus saw injustice and hypocrisy and named it for what it was… despite knowing that he would be persecuted for doing so. Most of his followers, and everyone else, watched in silence as he was carted away and hung on a cross for the crime of demonstrating how to live in freedom.
He encouraged others not to be enslaved by the consciousness of their times — not to cower in fear as they lived their lives in the shadow of despotic rule. Jesus’ message is, that you will never know freedom until and unless you are willing to strive for it, and maybe sometimes die for it. He also talked about what it means to live in freedom… to live honorably, faithful to your ideals, while having compassion and respect for the dignity of others, without hypocrisy — for that is where following the truth will lead you… if you follow it with integrity.
Bringing this message into the present, it is as applicable today as it was in his time. We live in a country a bit more sophisticated than the one he lived in and yet the consciousness in many ways is the same. Our country has all the trappings of empire. Our troops are stationed in many far off lands. Our wars are conducted to bring back the spoils we find in foreign places. We have betrayed, preyed upon, and persecuted the weak and defenseless in each hemisphere on earth. Those who resist are threatened with destruction. Anyone who stands in our way is called traitor, communist, insurgent, or terrorist… depending on the occasion or circumstance. Despite all this, we are told by our leaders that we are the salt of the earth. That everything we do is for the good of others. It is a lie.
If Jesus lived today he might be called any one of those derogatory epithets, even though he would not lift a finger in violence against anyone. Governments lie; the truth is a casualty of greed.
We have a Constitution that proclaims freedom for all, with many rights guaranteed, and yet we have seen that those rights can be altered or taken away by powerful men whenever they think their interests require it, guarantees notwithstanding. Armies are deployed and the bulk of riches flow back to the powers that be as if that were the natural order of things. We send our children to school and lie to them about how things work here… teaching them that the way things work here is natural, right, and good. We are careful not to advertise how things really work here.
Of course many of us don't know how things really work here because we don't want to know.
Periodically, ordinary working folk will come to acquire more wealth than those in high places think is necessary. That’s when laws are changed, rules are bent, standards relaxed… and before you know it those citizens find themselves poorer than they were just a short time ago. Those responsible make sure the media convinces these victims that what happened to them remains a mystery, an anomaly — a natural but improbable perfect storm occurrence. Perhaps the rules were too lax… mistakes were made, someone must have been asleep at the switch… whatever it was, "don’t worry folks, now that we understand it, we won’t let it happen again. You’re safe now. Let’s just put all that behind us and move on."
And yet, when all is said and done… when we do move on… what is lost is lost and not returned… at least not to them. Someone here or there might be held up as the culprit who allowed this to happen. And the People might even complain. But soon enough they’ll all go back to work — more indebted, vulnerable, insecure and poorer than they were before. In a generation or two when their grandchildren acquire a bit of wealth just as they once did, the process will repeat itself. Only the circumstances will be just a little different. And yet when the dust settles the result will be the same… great amounts of wealth will have been transferred from the weak and powerless to the powerful privileged few. This is how sophisticated tyranny works. Instead of chains and slavery, the debt that then hangs around your neck is the only evidence you have that you’ve been had… you’ve lost something even more valuable than wealth, but you just can’t put your finger on it… maybe you were the one asleep at the switch.
We are told that in our society everyone is equal. But those who come awake and open their eyes eventually see… Yes—everyone is equal, but some are a bit more equal than others. Corporations struggle for success or survival in the marketplace and yet some are too big to be allowed to fail. Our courts are active, lawyers and prosecutors are in abundance, our jails are teeming and yet some criminals are too important to prosecute. We are told that some of the freedoms we once held sacred make us too vulnerable to retain… after all, "the Constitution is not a suicide pact… is it?
If Jesus were here today he would tell us… “If you want to know what freedom is, read the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Strive for and adhere honorably to these truths and you will know what to do, what to believe in, to achieve your freedom.”
Those in power will tell you that those rights are already yours… even though they who tell you this are the very hypocrites plotting to make sure those rights never will be.
Jesus didn't go to church. Jesus never told you he wanted to be worshipped. Jesus never told you that if you pray to him, that one day he will come back and save you.
What he said was, “I will show you what freedom is and how to win it for yourself. Believe in me, follow my example and freedom will be yours. Do not kill. Do not cheat, judge, or persecute others. Do unto them as you would have them do unto you. Do not sacrifice your truth. Live in freedom. Pay your taxes so that your government can function honorably as it should. But do not give away or let anyone take what is rightfully yours, for that is God’s gift to you and yours to have forever. Learn to live without fear, in spite of fear. Honor your country by giving your country its due; honor God by giving God His due, which is to say, live your freedom and your truth. My life is my teaching. I will die that you might live… if you believe what I tell you and in what I stand for.”
Maybe he didn’t use these exact words, but this, in essence, is what he said. His life and how he lived it was his message. Those few who followed in his footsteps often ended up as he did. That’s why so few follow in his footsteps.
The truth is, to change the consciousness, it probably isn’t necessary to sacrifice your life as he did. One person alone cannot change the consciousness. But one person can follow the path and help lead the way. And everyone who takes the path… adds weight to that side of the scale until one day a critical mass is achieved, the scale tilts, and the consciousness shifts in a new direction. Anyone who strives to live honorably, stands up or speaks out for justice, adds their example and understanding to the consciousness until eventually the consciousness shifts in the direction of justice.
Sometimes the risk of doing so is more or less dangerous than at other times, but every act of courage makes a difference. Many died to secure the freedoms we thought we had won once and for all. Now we know there is no “once and for all.” We have to be vigilant… we have to water the flowers every day and pull the weeds when they show up where they don’t belong. If we don’t rid ourselves of the weeds, eventually they will take over the whole garden. And every day we postpone the difficult task of getting rid of the weeds, makes it that much harder to get rid of them when we finally get to it.
Make no mistake… those who lust after money and power will not willingly give up trying to take from you what is rightfully yours.
They will hold onto their money and power with all their strength. Many would rather you starve and/or die, than modify their attitude or goals to allow you to live in freedom too. They will lie to you. They will cheat you. They will persecute those who get in their way. They will call you traitor, or terrorist; they will slander your name with their lies. They will diminish your efforts any way they can; they will tell half truths to undermine what you stand for and what you have to say. And if they cannot scuttle you with slander, they will try to buy you off. And if they can’t buy you off they will buy off the people you have chosen to represent you. All their skill and power will be focused on marginalizing your power, your hopes, your aspirations, and the aspirations you have for your children. And if all that fails they will threaten you, persecute you, incarcerate you, torture you, kill you, telling their hired mercenaries that it is right, proper, and noble to get rid of you… for you are not a patriot, not one of ‘them’.
In order to win your freedom, one day you might have to put your life on the line… because they will stop at nothing if you threaten their ambitions. Look around the world… where did all the dead and mutilated bodies come from. After all these centuries, why can't we demonstrate any more wisdom than this?
Many people in America don’t know they have already lost much of their freedom. They think that as long as other people can be imprisoned, tortured and held without trial it has nothing to do with them… and even if criminals in high places are allowed to get away with murder… "well, it’s none of my business… they didn’t murder anyone I know."
Many of us have been bought off with the spoils of Empire… a car, a digital TV, an i-Phone, or whatever. Too much to lose to fight a little hypocrisy. "If I fight, I could lose everything. Better I should keep my mouth shut.
" Of course, you don't have to fight... you could just try to be satisfied living within your means, maintaining your integrity in how you work, how you relate to others, and how you express your citizenship.
The reality is, if you won’t defend the rights of others, one day there will be no one left to defend your rights when they come to take the rest of yours away. You know this is true, but still… “I have my job you know, and my car, and my computer, and my TV, and my rent, and my life. Why should I risk all that for people I don’t even know or care about?”
Well, Jesus never told you to go to church and pray for him to come back and save you from your fate, although it is understandable why you do it. And, I suppose that when the time comes, if you go to your place of worship not just on Sunday, but every day, instead of going to work, until you either starve to death or win your freedom… well, that might work. For their paid mercenaries might one day get the picture and begin to understand that by making war on you, who want only to be free, they will be making war on their own hopes and dreams as well. Maybe in that moment of awareness they will put their guns down or turn them around and point them at the real enemy.
Still, how will you ever win back your freedom if, like sheep, you are not even aware of what you’ve lost in the first place?
If Jesus showed up one day would he recognize his teachings in you? Would you recognize him, based on how you think he would express himself?
We say we love our children and yet we send them off to war to fight and kill and die, telling ourselves and them that they are fighting so that we might live in freedom… even when the battle they are asked to fight makes no sense at all. When we find it that easy to send our children into wars that should never be fought, that should be a clue that something is wrong.
For if we truly loved our children, we would not send them to kill and die; but instead we would put our own lives on the line. We would say “over my dead body will you take my child to kill and die so that you can steal from others what is not yours or mine to have.”
Maybe many of us would have to pay a heavy price or die before we would win our children’s freedom. Do we have the will, the wisdom, or the courage to do what we ask our children to do in the name of freedom?
Jesus told us how to be. He talked the talk, and walked the walk. His life was his teaching. Too bad we turned his simplicity into an endless complicated liturgy… that we might be distracted from the truth and the responsibility of courageously seeking the truth so that we might live it.
Most who claim they follow him, don’t really. They never had his commitment, his determination, the conviction of his love. Some become the demagogues who to this day twist and rearrange his message to suit their own interests. Some people volunteer their children into becoming Christian soldiers. Go to battle, lust for war, believe in lies, pray to God to help you kill some invented enemy before that enemy kills you. It takes a lot of skill at twisting words and meanings to attribute such an agenda to Jesus.
But there are those who really do try to follow his teachings. There is hope yet.
Why don’t we teach our children the wisdom of those brave souls that came before — like Jesus — who died that we might live in freedom, or lived and worked that we might have the Universal Declaration of Human Rights… to help us understand what justice means… and to help us know what to believe and strive for.
If Jesus were here today, I don't think he would admonish you to read the Bible. I think he would tell you to read The Universal Declaration of Human Rights… He would suggest, as starters, that you come into alignment with the words and the spirit embodied in that Declaration.
Love the truth, seek the truth. For one day, the truth shall set you free.
Those who call the Bible the holy book have divided themselves into various communities all claiming to worship Jesus. He never wanted to be worshipped. All he wanted was to teach and for us to learn… how to be honest, decent, courageous, loving, human beings.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is a roadmap for encouraging all of humanity to become one community bound together by common values that celebrate freedom, decency, respect and love. Jesus would point you in that direction if he had the chance... it's a good reference for learning how to behave towards one another.
Maybe you should read it while you still have the chance.
As for the United Nations, which sponsored the Declaration... today it is an organization that doesn't and can't work as it was intended. Neither does our government. Both institutions can be improved only through the work and dedication of honorable citizens who have a vision, intention, and commitment for achieving universal peace and justice.
God is real, not a myth. God is closer to you than your own breath.
Anyway, this is how I see it.
God and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
How I See It
On Following Orders
Interviews with Jesus - 1 , 2, and 3
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