A Thought for the Day - June 6, 2023
I am a Christian, even if some other Christians would like to dispute this. In the person of Jesus of Nazareth I find someone who was awakened to the reality of the Divine Truth, and so much so that he was the Divine Truth.
I am also a lover of this world. By that I mean that if God so loved the world to send Jesus into it, then I better love it too. However, that is harder to do I must admit. The world isn’t easy to love. It isn’t easy to love what feels often broken. It isn’t easy to love that which hurts me so regularly. It isn’t easy to love when (truth be told) I am often afraid of the world.
However, as the letter of 1 John reminds us, “perfect love casts out fear.” Jesus wasn’t afraid of the world. It did it’s worst and he loved it anyway. People were terrible and acted with evil and he forgave them anyway. He didn’t write a word down, was left alone on a cross when many of those closest to him ran for fear, and for some reason the way of his love was and is so strong that we can’t shake ourselves of Jesus.
There is simply something about perfect love, that even 2000 years later it shakes us to our core, it rattles the complacency in our souls; because, it reminds us what we too can be—a lover of this world.
The word buddha means “awakened.” In Buddhism the one who becomes enlightened, or aware, is awakened to the reality of the world. When I was in college I read a book by the famed Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh titled, “Living Buddha, Living Christ: Jesus and the Buddha as Brothers.” I didn’t read it for any class or assignment, I read it because I saw it in a book store and I thought, “I’d like to know more about that.”
Part of the reason that some Christians will tell me that I am not a Christian is because of how much I learn about God from other religious traditions. Even as a child I could feel the truth within other traditions when I encountered them. I read the Qur’an in college too. As with the little book about Jesus and the Buddha as brothers, I read it for no other reason than I wanted to know about it. I find in the Buddha and Muhammad teachers of Christ Jesus. They helped to teach me that everyone I meet can be a teacher of Christ to me.
Since I can remember, Jesus has had hold of my life. Whether it be like Paul saying in Galatians 1 that he was chosen for his life with Christ while in his mother’s womb, or Jeremiah hearing from God that he was chosen before he was even formed in his mother’s womb, I get it. Jesus has always been there. I can’t escape him, and I’ve done my best to try.
But, no matter what I do Jesus doesn’t let me go—I think Peter was the first to figure that out, and I hope that we all figure that out too. Knowing that we are always loved is the first step to loving the world. It doesn’t mean that we want the world to stay the same (we shouldn’t want that), it just means that we love it as we find it, just like the God (and don’t forget God is love) who loves us just as we are found. And, that is also the first step to awakening like Jesus was awakened to the reality of this life.
Jesus was many things, and one of them was a Buddha, one of them was a great prophet and Messiah (our Islamic siblings agree on that), and one of them was a rabbi, a teacher. He keeps teaching me, and he will use the whole world to teach me until I too am awake to the reality of this world, till I too am in love with this world, and marvel that I get to be a part of it and exist in it.
There were thunder storms here last night. I went to the room in my house with the biggest window and watched it until midnight. I haven’t experienced many thunder storms since leaving Georgia. They are terrifyingly beautiful. I marveled at it. I try to marvel at others I meet because everyone I meet is God’s beloved. When I do, they all teach me, and I am love them, and I am not afraid… I am awakened, I am a Buddha, I am a Muslim who submits my will to God, I am a Christian (which means little Christ originally).
Please don’t love your ideas of God more than you love the love of God. The world needs to be loved, it is the only way to make it better. People who love their ideas of God more than the love of God almost never love the world… but God loves the world, Jesus loves the world, and I would love to be a little Jesus. I would love to say I am a Christian and be a real little Christ.
Grace and Shalom,