YouTube: I Am The Way (part 2)
There are a number of versions of the so-called 4 M’s of development of a religious movement. The sequence I learned was this: the man, the message, the movement, and the monument.
Christianity, like all world religions, has long ago reached the monument stage. The man Jesus and his message are obscured beneath the veil of antiquity. Scholars today often refer to the loosely organized group of followers that formed after his crucifixion as the Jesus movement. It was during this movement stage that the articles of faith that would become mainstream Christianity began to take shape. The teachings of Jesus became teachings about Jesus.
In the case of Jesus, the man’s message bore witness to the truth, focusing on the spiritual awakening of his individual followers. “… when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (Matt. 6:6). In other words, Jesus taught “… the art of establishing a conscious relation with the Absolute” (Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism).
In contrast, the movement phase represents a shift in focus from the individual’s awakening to the movement itself. Followers exchange spiritual autonomy for a list of articles of faith, the profession of which keeps them in good standing within the fold. To become a leader within the movement does not require that one establish a conscious relation with the Absolute. It only requires an acceptance of the articles of faith and a commitment to the advancement of the movement.
More and more people are abandoning formal religion in favor of the autonomy of their own spiritual path. While Jesus never abandoned his Judaism, he did place its rote teachings and dogmatic practices second to his conscious relationship to the Absolute, the Father. By all appearances, the Way that he taught was intended to place his audience in harmony with the natural laws of manifestation. He taught through the simple yet brilliant use of parable, but most importantly, he taught by example. The truth that he bore witness to in word and deed is the very truth that will set us free.