It may seem an obvious statement for anyone who, like me, have studied the scriptures at any depth. Jesus was a Jew and most Christians would readily admit this fact. But as obvious as it may be we still tend to think of Jesus as a Christian, because, lets face it what else would he be? He founded Christianity, didn’t he?
- Etymologically it doesn’t make any sense Christian means little Christ or Christ-like. Jesus was Christ and cannot be Christ-like or a smaller version of himself. If Jesus looked in the mirror his mirror image could possibly be called Christian, likeness of Christ.
- Jesus did not go to church every Sunday Since Jesus was Jewish he would have gone to a synagogue on Saturday if he went to any service at all.
- Jesus did not tithe Tithing is an old testament temple tax, one that Jesus as far as we know, did not subscribe to.
- Jesus did not submit to any authority The only authority Jesus submitted to was to god whom he called Abba (Father) therefore Jesus did not submit to any priestly hierarchy. The only other authority Jesus submitted to was love and as we know god is love and therefore following Jesus example would be to be ruled by love.
- Jesus did not conform Jesus lived in this world but not according to societal, cultural or religious norms and rules. Jesus lived connected to his true divine nature and responded to each moment as it required, not by pre-written or conceived rules.
- Jesus did not pray to himself This may again be stating the obvious but Jesus did not pray “Dear Jesus” or “Lord” prayers. Jesus teaches us to pray like him “Father” prayers using the hebrew word Abba which is more like papa or daddy.
- Jesus did not sing songs to himself We do not know how Jesus worshipped but if he did sing (and it is a good guess that he did) it was probably Jewish psalms and liturgy.
- Jesus did not preach from the bible This is a tricky one. We do not have much of Jesus teaching preserved, but in what we do have, he only refers to the scriptures occasionally. Jesus (and the gospel writes) often assumes familiarity with scripture, which in Jesus case would mean the Torah and the prophets. His teaching is not based on exegesis, instead Jesus teaches about the kingdom of god as a reality here and now, he explains it with stories and parables of his own.
- Jesus knew he was human One of Jesus most used names for himself was “son of man” or “son of Adam” this literally means child of the earth (Adama means from earth or from the soil). Jesus knew he was from here, from this planet, this existence. and he knew he belonged here. One could say that Jesus was more human than most of us. He shows us what it means to be human and how to live out our humanity to the fullest. The only reason Jesus left was so that we would not make “it” all about his person but rather about his essence, Jesus true self that was one with god. So that “his spirit” would be present everywhere, with everyone.
- Jesus knew he was divine Jesus knew that he was in this world but not of this world. He was aware that his true nature, his essence was one with god. And so he lived a life with no separation between himself and the divine.
- Jesus did not “plant a church” Jesus did not select a single place to stay or start a church, he knew that the gospel is a message for everyone regardless of locality, ethnicity, culture or religion.
- Jesus did not write a book As a wisdom teacher he must have understood that any book written by him would be treated as divinity and applied in situations where it did not apply. So he did not write one, he also did not tell his disciples to write one.
- Jesus did not supply any theological or doctrinal teaching Cemented doctrines and creeds are not fluid enough to be applicable to the messiness of life. So Jesus responded to all theological questions with story or parable where revelation happens in interpretation.
- Jesus did not subscribe to the sacred/secular divide Jesus treated everything, everyone and everyplace as sacred. Wherever he could he erased the imaginary boundary between sacred and secular.
- Jesus Believed in you Jesus saw things as they truly where and confronted religious and spiritual ignorance and celebrated life and humanity. He would empower and lift ordinary people up, set them free and have faith in the ordinary person, the outcast and anyone who “had ears to hear and eyes to see”
If we are to be Christian (little Christ) or even Christ-like we actually need to, in many ways break with organised Christianity as it is in many places an institutionalised religion much like the one that Jesus again and again spoke out against.
The question is what would Christianity without religion or Christianity without the church look like. What if we where to return to being followers of the way rather than Christians?