Saturday, June 17, 2017

The Love of Christ

What do we all want? Love, kindness, security, friendship, compassion. The list goes on.  For me, I want to be able to relax, be myself, feel accepted and know I am not alone.  I want to be able to enjoy life, hope for the future, feel important and do seemingly impossible things.

With Jesus, all this is possible. He is like everyone's ready made best friend.  And the awesome part is, he can be anything to anyone.  For one person, he is a strong big brother type. For another, he fills in the need for romantic love. He is the friend, the cheerleader, the guardian.

At times, Jesus is all we have. When I say Jesus, I mean whatever supernatural entity people may identify with.

So, what happens when we lose the ability to believe in him?  Or, what if you are a person who was never able to feel the "love of Christ."

When my mom died, it was devastating.  But, having let go of Jesus over a year before, I had learned something of losing a major loved one.  When I said goodbye to Jesus, I realized I could still hear his voice.  He had always been with me and could always be with me, because, he was me.  I had taken all the things I wanted to believe in and placed them in Jesus' hands. Now, I could take them back and hold them in mine.

When mom died, I decided I would hold her with me. I would hear her voice.  I would never let her go. Because, the truth was, if she had not died, she would be there for me. She would call me everyday. She would come visit me and call my kids silly names and clean my house when I was tired.  She gave me the love of Christ.  And just because life sucks and she got sick, does not mean that I have to give up her love. Her love was real and it was given to me freely. I will never let that go.  I can live each day knowing, I was/am loved.  I am not alone on
this difficult beautiful journey.

I can also tell you of Judy, my godmother.  This woman loves and cares for others to a scary point that most may think a bit over the top. But, she loves.  She made me believe I was important and valuable. Maybe it's just because she believes Jesus made me. But I like to believe it's because she values the individual regardless.  She believes in God and she showed me the "love of Christ."

So what is a decided Atheist to do with this "love of Christ?"  Give it away.  I know what acceptance, encouragement, compassion, apprenticeship, and friendship have done for me.  They have given me hope when I felt all was lost.  They have helped me to believe in myself when I wanted to give up.

Life is so short and fast and scary.  "We can see so far because we stand on the shoulders of giants," my college professor, Dr. Regis Martin, would say quoting Isaac Newton.   We need each other to take flight past the limited isolation of our finite being.  We can hoard our time, energy, love, education and resources. Or, we can share. And by sharing, we lift others up.

It is true that sometimes we will be hurt, abused, abandoned, and taken advantage of.  This is the risk.  For me, I would have nothing if it were not for my mother and Judy. If it weren't for my sister, my friends, teachers, books, and the smile of a stranger, I would have given up when life got hard.

At times, especially since I have let go of Jesus, it is the smallest acts of kindness from complete strangers that allow me to suffer the pain of a difficult life.   I choose to offer that to others.

I still allow myself to bask in the peace of Christ that I used to believe was real.  I still allow myself to hear my mothers voice calling me her baby. I hold a strangers hand who is scared. I give a hug.  I look into another's eyes and love. I give the love of Christ to myself and to those I meet.

We all need the love of Christ.  Of course, I do not mean the actual love of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, who lived 2000 years ago, was crucified, died and was buried and now sits at the right hand of the Father.  No.... We need the love, acceptance, understanding, encouragement, kindness, and hope that only we can actually give. Because we are all we have.


fRED said...

What a surprising post! And not just bc its been awhile. It caught me off guard and I have been mulling over it for several weeks. Of course, you are right.
I have been attending a Bible-based Jesus church for 16 months. I don't evangelize (either direction) so we are fine and they are my stand-in family. Since the start or 2017, Pastor has been preaching the Letter to the Philippians (thee old verse-by verse approach). I have been reading the entire thing out load every morning (trying to make sense of what it is trying to say). There is much of it that resonates with me and my experience. On the other hand, the references to Christ are pretty abstract and far out.
Recently I heard about a (2010) book, "Paul Among the People". It tried to interpret Paul's writings in the context of other ancient classical literature. How might the people of that time might have understood Paul's letters?
It got me wondering about what if Paul made up the Jesus/Christ character as a sort of imaginary friend or alter ego (e.g Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band/Beatles) and it just took off and kept going....There is probably a technical psychological term for this.
Near the end of 2016 I heard about a book, "Confessions of a Secular Jesus Follower: Finding Answers in Jesus for Those Who Don't Believe." The author shows that in Jesus, nonreligious people like himself can find unique and compelling wisdom on how to honor the humanity in ourselves and others, how to build more peaceful lives, how generosity can help people and communities create more abundance, how to break free from self-defeating behaviors, and how to tip the scales toward justice.
And so, as a seeker, at the moment, I think there is more truth and benefit in actually trying to follow the teachings associated with Jesus than professing in a supernatural-alternative universe.
Finally, I want to apologize for any stupid comments I made on this site (I am afraid to go back and look). Hopefully you understand that I meant well. I am sorry that your marriage didn't work out and I wish for all involved that there could be a way to rebuild it in a better way.

ajl said...

Thank you FRED for checking in and sharing your thoughts!