YouTube: The Quest for Jesus
For the past two weeks, we have been exploring the idea that, within the Gospels, there is a difference between the teachings of Jesus and the teachings of the early church. The Gospel writers used the voice and person of Jesus to advance the narrative that would become mainstream Christian theology. Is it possible, then, to draw from these writings the pure message of Jesus?
I have identified two worldviews that I’ve named the paradigm of oneness and the paradigm of separation. The paradigm of oneness is based on the experience of mystical union or direct communion with the ultimate reality we call God. The paradigm of separation assumes that union with God is not a present reality but a future possibility. I refer to those scriptures that reflect the paradigm of oneness as the mystical thread. The scriptures that reflect the paradigm of separation represent the theological basis of the early and contemporary church.
As counterintuitive as it may sound, we will be most successful if we lay aside our quest for a pure message of Jesus and simply look first for passages that reflect the principles of mysticism. In a nutshell, these will refer to the omnipresent, changeless nature of God as unconditional love, the divine nature of each individual, and the individual’s inseparable union with God.
A fundamental principle of mysticism is that we suffer because we lose conscious connection with our indwelling lord. All mystical practice is geared to returning to our spiritual center, our true home. The story of the prodigal son embodies the entire problem of leaving our spiritual center, suffering as the result, and retuning to the open arms of unconditional love.
Because there is not enough space here to list the thread of scriptures that echo this principle, we will explore more in upcoming lessons. In the meantime, our quest for Jesus will be most successful when we stop seeking him and look instead for passages that embody the principles of mysticism, the truth of our oneness with God. These passages, I believe, point directly to the spiritual teacher we seek.