Jesus and the Christ, Part 4

Jesus and the Christ, Part 4

Christ is God, and Jesus is the Christ’s historical manifestation in time. Jesus is a Third Someone, not just God and not just man, but God and human together. Fr. Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ[1]

Teacher and author Richard Rohr, in his illuminating book The Universal Christ, sums up the nature of the created world in this way: “Everything visible, without exception, is the outpouring of God. What else could it be?”[2] He goes on to explain that the term the Christ represents the template, or Logos, by which all things came and come into being. As such, the Christ (or template) existed long before Jesus’ appearance on the earth, and the Christ (or template) remains long after Jesus’ crucifixion. Every aspect of creation arises from this template. Rohr explains that Christ is the “means by which God’s presence has enchanted all matter throughout history.”[3] Taken together, Jesus and the Christ illustrate something foundational about God’s nature: God is personal, in Jesus, and God is universal, in Christ. Rohr continues, “Christ is a good and simple metaphor for absolute wholeness, complete incarnation, and the integrity of creation … Frankly, Jesus came to show us how to be human much more than how to be spiritual.’[4] It is not enough to recognize and name Jesus as the Christ of God. We, too, must claim the Christ template for ourselves and act accordingly if we wish to become the fully human being God created us to be – the being modeled for us in Jesus.

From our perspective, at least, humans are the only part of creation that wrestle with who they are. Dogs, mountains, stars, flowers, and everything else in the created universe unapologetically act in ways consistent with their created natures. Only we raise questions and doubts. Only we strive mightily to portray ourselves as something we are not. We end up becoming less human, not more. The planets do not complain about the orbit they were placed in nor their distance from the sun. Personally, I believe we were uniquely designed to question our place, purpose, and destiny. Pursuing such questions draws us toward greater fullness as human beings. It is the disconnect between who we are (the Christ template) and who we think we should be (social expectations, including those from the church) that is the root of much evil.

Some say our free will separates us from the rest of creation. But does it? If we observe closely we will see that the vast majority of what we do and say is in reaction to something said or done to us. We seldom act so much as react. Psychologists estimate that 90% of our actions are subconsciously motivated, meaning we have no idea why we do most of what we do. I believe it was author Harold Kushner who identified the space between a stimulus, or something done to us, and our response. For most of us, most of the time, that space is minuscule. And yet, that space is our only opportunity to exert free will – to consciously choose how to respond. Otherwise, we simply react, like the apparently less-conscious parts of creation, often to our own detriment and that of others. And that space, when we choose to consciously deploy it, may be what separates us from the rest of creation. It is in that space where we can choose to act with presence and intention, consistent with our divine template, instead of with instinctive impulsivity.

Part of our confusion about who we are lies in the disconnect between who we believe ourselves to be at our essence (our divine template) and who we appear to be from our actions (or reactions). One Christ-like thing that separated Jesus from others was his ability to consciously choose his actions, to respond to hate, threats, and exclusion with love, acceptance, and justice. Jesus mastered his space. We will become more human when we learn to consciously master our space, too. As we awaken to our Christ-nature, our lives become more than personal – they become universal. Our actions are no longer driven by a self-protective, narcissistic ego but are driven by what serves the inclusive whole. We heal instead of wounding. We include instead of excluding. We love instead of turning a blind eye. As our actions more closely align with who we were created to be, we become Christ for our world. When we awaken to the Christ within, we see and love the Christ within others. We cannot help but serve others because our love demands it; and by serving the needs of others, our own needs are miraculously met because we are all One in Christ.

This is the 20th in the series of Life Notes titled Churchianity vs Christianity. I invite your thoughts, insights, and feedback via email at ghildenbrand@sunflower.com, or through my website, www.ContemplatingGrace.com. At the website, you can also sign up to have these reflections delivered to your Inbox every Thursday morning and browse the archives of my Life Notes, Podcasts, music, books, and other musings.


[1] Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ, Convergent Books, 2019, p. 19.

[2] Ibid., p. 13.

[3] Ibid., p. 17.

[4] Ibid., p. 23.

2 thoughts on “Jesus and the Christ, Part 4

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s