“It is often overwhelming to imagine changing our entire way of life. Where do we begin? How do we take down a wall that took 25 or 50 years to erect? Breath by breath. Little death by little death. Dropping all we carry instant by instant. Trusting that what has done the carrying, if freed, will carry us.”
Not one tiny speck of me believes that Jesus came to start Christianity. I don't believe it anymore, not even a little bit. But I do believe that Divine Love has been meeting us through Christianity, as they have always done and will always do.
I know, babes. That statement is going to cause some offense and that's not actually what I'm trying to do - mostly because I'm not trying to talk to religious people, I'm trying to talk to the rest of us, to the spiritual wanderers, and sacred disruptors, and the people who have lived their lives seeing Divine light in the dark. So, I'll leave it there and we can love it or hate it, but - like all inspiration that comes to us in the dark - it'll keep moving through the world and giving a whole lot of us the exhale we've been holding in for a long, long time.
Here's what I mean.
You know the saying, "we don't see people as they are, we see them as we are"? And you know the tradition that says "God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow"? This is how I see it: The Divine has always been the same entity, holding the Universe in their DNA and creating new things out of the same flow over and over again. They are bigger, broader, fuller, vaster, wider, deeper, and much more expansive than we will ever have the capacity to grasp. I see The Divine as a mystical, energetic entity who are always participating in the divine flow of love. They haven't changed, they have no need to change. They have always, always, always met humanity right where they are because that's where they are. At the risk of exhausting the same analogy used in every church service ever - it's the same kind of tenderness I meet my children with, knowing that what they need at 5 is different than what they need at 13. Who my kids are is always changing, they are evolving and how I meet them depends on what they need in the moment. But I am me - always their mama, always steadily loving them and showing up for them. Divine Love is always Them - always the origin of love and healing, always steadily showing up for us. Even as we evolve. Even as culture shifts and as we change course. They haven't changed, but we have. The evidence of it is in how we look back at ancient writings (the bible) and traditions that have to change in order for us to keep participating in the divine flow.
All this time we have been seeing God as we are, not as They are. We have been writing about God through the filter of how we perceive and what we need. We have been preaching gospels and making rules based on the image of God that makes the most sense to what someone once needed. But if we don't keep growing, keep healing, keep evolving we're going to get stuck. We're going to get lost on a path that was never meant for us to give our lives to. We're going to abandon the divine flow for the comfort of the past - and only because the past is a familiar we know.
We're going to have to risk.
We're going to have to ask the kind of questions that dismantle everything, trusting that if God is as God as we say They are we'll still be standing face to face with Love at the end of it all. And, if not, then we will have still freed ourselves from a system that is suffocating humanity more and more by the minute.
Instead of defending or ignoring a gospel we can't even reconcile to in our deepest selves, we can ask better questions. We don't have to create a dualistic response to the things we can't come to terms with in the history of the Judeo Christian tradition, saying this is in and that's out. We can remember what it's like to be human and let the records of how other people interpreted their experiences with The Divine thousands of years ago be exactly that: their records, their experiences, their filter. We can let both exist. We can abandon the either/or perspective for something bigger: a long time ago some people lived in a tribal world, served a God who they felt chosen by (and don't we all), wrote poetry, and stories, and even boring accounts of what they felt and lived - and this is how they saw God then. This is how God made sense to those people at that time (we could have an entirely bigger conversation about how and why it was all translated into English the way it was, but one topic at a time).
I mean, step back for a minute. Get a wider view. Today we write articles, and books, and blogs, and social media posts, and record podcasts and shows about how we encounter The Divine and I'll be the first to admit that how I see God has drastically evolved over the years. The me of 20 years ago would think the me right now is a heretic. Richard Rohr says that THAT is growth. That is how I know I'm growing, evolving, changing, expanding. I'm not who I was then, which means God looks different to me now.
We don't see God as They are, we see Them as we are. And I would think They're okay with that. I think Divine Love knows exactly how hard it is to be human, how frustrating it is to try to navigate the tension between both being grounded to our human experience and feeling pulled into something bigger than us.
I don't believe that Jesus came to start Christianity and, in fact, I think the modern western church resembles the very thing Jesus pushed back on and was killed for. But I do think Jesus came to teach us how to be human and deconstructing our faith can either separate us from that or can finally open the doors to it. We can either live dualistically on the other side of Christianity or we can open ourselves to the possibility that The Divine have always been meeting us where we are and we have always been trying to define that deep tenderness and presence. None of this is new.
Maybe the next time we find ourselves in a tense conversation about how antiquated and patriaricharical the bible is, the next time someone tosses out a "just read the word" to try to end a conversation they really don't know how to have, the next time we remember something from those scriptures that absolutely, without a doubt contrasts who we know Divine Love to have steadily been throughout human experience we can remember how it feels to be human. Maybe we can stop trying to make the writings of other wandering people into divinely inspired words and we can let them rest. And maybe that will release us from the pain of imagining God as brutal, cold, and disconnected. Maybe it will give us the peace we need to move forward without an either/or - as infuriating as that is to religion. We don't need those absolutes. We need to keep evolving so that we can keep encountering the divine flow of love in new ways. We need to keep writing it down and telling the stories so that we ALL keep growing past this moment. And, with every gloriously earned inch of humility, we need to allow God to be fully, vastly, mystically God. Anne Lamott said that we can know that we have successfully made God in our own image when God hates the same people we do. You know what that means, right? God will never be as we see Them. God will never be made in the image of our fear, and religion, and shame, and anger, and justifications, and intense need to fit somewhere. God has been, is, and always will be outside of how We see them, but not outside of meeting humanity where we are. To serve Love, we'll have to keep forgiving the old thing for the humanness of it and growing into the new thing.
For me, I'm not a Christian. I'm a Jesus follower though. I'm a student of Divine Love. I'm a tragically, beautifully fragmented human being who is constantly being met right where I am. I'm growing, evolving, changing, course correcting, and finding new treatment for old wounds the deeper I move into the divine flow. Hopefully I'll keep moving forward, keep encountering new things that challenge me and heal me so that how I see God is as fluid and free as how They see me.