It might be useful to reflect back on all that has been said and see if there is some coherence in the argument made so far. Have I been repetitive, saying the same thing over and over again? Or are the points adding up? Or are they, instead, sitting there separately, not making sense as a whole?
The underlying thesis is that the Christian God (i.e. specifically the loving God the Father that Jesus speaks about) is the one and only God that the Bible and the Judeo-Christian-Muslim religions are referencing. God existed before and outside these religions and had a relationship with us humans from the start. This relationship did not change and it dwelled in us and was expected of us then as it is now. All Jesus did was to remind us of this and in the process fulfilled the Law.
What this mean is that the Laws (religious beliefs and moral principles) that we created to define moral behavior were just incomplete manifestations of God's desired relationship. Without being told, we know what is needed of us and those who lived in that relationship did not only find true happiness but had a place with God in heaven. Sadly, as we tried to give words to and enforce God's desired relationship, we built structures that separated us further from God and from our opportunities for happiness. It is this that Jesus railed against when he was here. And it is this still that prevents many good people from having the desired relationship with God.
For our relationship with God does not require that we are sinless. It is through our relationship with God that we become sinless. And this state of sinlessness does not come from obedience to the Law but from the expression of our love (for God and for one another). In this life, God exists to comfort and guide us, not to judge us. Judgment comes after, when we leave this world. We turn to God for this comfort, and guidance, not to gloat of our sinlessness or to live in fear of our sins.
In choosing this relationship with God, we do not avoid suffering. Quite the opposite. In some ways, we invite suffering. We offer ourselves in love, as a sacrifice. We give of ourselves, because we know God's love. This choice, which we need to make every day, every moment of our lives, is the fundamental trait of being human. It is our free will, and it places upon us a responsibility for our actions. We choose to love, and we need to acknowledge this freedom to choose at every point in our lives. The moments when we decide that we have no choice, and that we are somehow forced to act in a particular way, we lose our right to happiness.
This choice, this challenge, is prescribed. God gives it to us and we can either accept it or deny it. Like life itself, it is a gift. Outside of our experience, outside of the fact that we feel the strength of our happiness, and the durability of it, we cannot logically derive it. Why would giving of ourselves make us happy? How can happiness contain suffering in its essence? What's the point of humbling ourselves? How can godliness be a result of being a servant?
I suggest that this is what Jesus Christ, if not Christianity itself, is about. And that this is true whether or not you are a Christian. That this is what is meant when it is said that Jesus came to save the world. To see if he has, we should not look at the spread of Christianity but at how deeply the notion of unconditional love pervades our society, at how we assume and expect that a husband must love his wife (and vice versa), that parents must love their children, that people are entitled to be treated with respect and honor. At how fundamentally, our lives are about searching for love.
The way forward is neither more Christianity nor more moral teaching. The way forward is more love. And it may mean less Christianity and fewer Christians. It may mean more and more people who reject religion but live a life of acceptance, tolerance and understanding. I take comfort in that we expect this of one another. That this concept of love underpins our current discussions, whatever our race, religion or nationality. We are entitled. But just look back and see how it was not practiced in the past. And how, when we proclaim the Law as the rigid and absolute measure, misery and punishment always result. There are times, golden times, when Christianity and Christian society lived up to these ideals and brought freedom, democracy and opportunity to the world. No other society can be said to have done so. But there are times when we failed.
If I am right, and God, the Bible and Jesus Christ, are not about Christianity vs other religions but about the Truth and how we need to live our lives, then we need to read the Bible differently. And understand it differently.
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