Vision: Why I Love Jesus & Am Not a Christian by Howard Hanger

October 30, 2016 |

Basically, it’s the judgement thing.  I’ve had it up to here with religious or non-religious folks judging someone else.  Deciding that one way of thinking — specifically, MY way of thinking – is better than another.

Doesn’t matter whether it’s a controlling Christian, a biased Buddhist, a mulish Muslim, a  wise-ass Wiccan, a condescending California LaLa, an aloof atheist or a jingoistic Jubilant or Jew.  Anyone who has nothing better to do than to put down someone else’s spiritual or non-spiritual inclinations is simultaneously wasting everyone’s time and spreading bad juju on the planet.

OK, OK, I’m judging judgement now.  Judging people who judge.  And if your spirituality is based on judging others, then go for it.  Just stay out of my face.

But most folks would claim that their spiritual connection is not about putting others down.  Most religions at least formally assert that they are in the business of making life better.   For everyone, albeit mostly for the believers.

Not that all Christians are judgmental.  There are many in the Church who actually follow Jesus’ teaching to love others… even your enemy… and judge not.

But at the present time, most Christian denominations still choose to denigrate and deny gays and lesbians.  Most Christian doctrine teaches that only Jesus can get your sweet butt into heaven.  Most Christian policy and polity are more about propriety than about loving God and loving your neighbor, the two commandments (according to Jesus) on which everything – make that EVERYTHING – else is based.   Most Christian denominations still claim that the Hebrew/Christian Bible (or at least certain lines drawn from the same) is the final arbiter of life on earth.  Good God, how arrogant can we be?

Where do we… where does anyone get idea that any person can know the mind of God?   What presumptuous poobah could ever promote the bodacious, overbearing and haughty notion that one set of religious dogmatic woo and one book could possibly explain the Divine and provide all the answers for all of life?   Give me a cosmic break!  The very idea is so absurd to be laughable if it hadn’t continued to cause such world-wide suffering for so long.

But, perhaps the most comical and painful part of the story for me, is that this Christian religion bears the name of a man who taught and lived a life of love, compassion and forgiveness.  Not judgement, arrogance or greed.  A man who owned nothing but lived life abundantly.  And called all people to do the same.   A man who referred to people as “lights of the world and salt of the earth.”  A man who said over and over, “Your faith has made you well.”  Your faith.  Not my faith. Your faith.

Jesus of Nazareth is a man whom I have grown to love with all my heart.  A man whose story continues to provide for me a basis of living and a wisdom to grow into.   A man whose profound insight and teaching calls me to love rather than to judge.  Calls me to bless and encourage love wherever I find it and offer love where it can’t be found.

For me, Jesus is neither a Jew nor a founder of any religion.  He is one who offers hope to all people.  Forgiveness even to our enemies.  Compassion with every heartbeat.  And love, no matter what.  No matter what.

No       matter      what.

When the Amish school children were killed in Pennsylvania awhile back, there was story that didn’t get a lot of play.  The NY Times reported that within hours of the killings, a group of Amish folk went to the home of the family whose husband and father had just murdered the children and then committed suicide.  It was not an Amish family.  Not one of their own.  But, they went to offer compassion.  They went to offer love.  Even to the family of the man who had murdered their kids.

For me, that’s the clearest answer to the question, WWJD?  What would Jesus do?  For me, that’s the clearest answer to the question, WWJD?  What would Jesus do?  For me, this unknown and un-knowable man stands apart from religion.  From all religion.  From all that would divide us or belittle us or keep us from the fullness of life that love – and love alone – offers.