This blog is dedicated to the historical Jesus. I’m often asked, why the “historical Jesus” and not just, Jesus? Because I think that Jesus was far more wonderful than the Christian religion that followed after him. The further away we get from Jesus, the more humanity creeps into his teachings. After over 30 years of studying the New Testament and early Christianity, I believe that the faith that we have inherited was created by lesser souls who decided that instead of following Jesus’ words and example of living and becoming One with God (Abba as Jesus called Him), they decided that they couldn’t or wouldn’t live up to their Master, and instead they would take the easier path of declaring that all one had to do was “believe” in him and they would be saved. And, they added the natural corollary, that if you didn’t believe in Jesus, that he was the “only begotten son,” then you wouldn’t be saved. For many that meant, and means today, that if you don’t subscribe to this dictum, then you are going to hell… forever to live in torment and pain. It seems to me like this was the lazy way out of doing the hard work of living as Jesus taught, and such a poor substitute for becoming a seeker of the Divine.
I have just concluded interviewing Jeffrey Long, MD, for his new book entitled, God and the Afterlife; The Groundbreaking New Evidence for God and Near-Death Experience. This joins his first book, Evidence of the Afterlife (both of which became Best Sellers on the New York Times non-fiction book list). After interviewing over 4,000 people that either clinically died, or came near death, and came back to life with what has become to be known as a Near Death Experience (NDE), he discovered that over 80% had experienced God, or a being of love and light that they perceived as God. It didn’t matter whether or not they believed in God before the event (in fact over 1/3 of them definitely didn’t believe in God or thought that there probably was no God). After they awoke, they had been changed. They knew God existed. Remarkably, their cultural or religious beliefs didn’t seem to matter, their experiences were all very similar. God was Light, God was Oneness, God was Love.
It’s funny, this seems to have been Jesus’ experience of God as well, and that is what the core of his teaching was. It wasn’t exclusionary, it was all encompassing. God’s love was likened to the love of a mother or father for a child, and he urged those that came to hear him to love God like the child does the mother (or father). There are no restrictions on the parent’s or child’s love, there is only acceptance and delight.