The Church vs The Christ, Part 3
So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members of one another. Romans 12:5
In last week’s Life Note I attempted to clarify that Jesus and the Christ are one, but not the same. This is difficult to understand and accept because most of us who were raised in the Christian church, even marginally, tend to assume the two are synonymous. That belief feeds much of churchianity because it leads us to consider the Christ as something exclusive to those who consider themselves Christian. It is not. The confusion is understandable because the distinction is difficult to clarify in words. Jesus of Nazareth became one with the Christ, in that he awoke to and aligned himself to his oneness with the Christ. As he did so, the person known as Jesus of Nazareth transformed. Even so, the oneness of Jesus of Nazareth with the Christ did not make the Christ the same as Jesus of Nazareth. Rather, the person of Jesus of Nazareth willingly set his ego-identity aside to allow the person of the Christ to emerge through him. If and as we awaken to and align ourselves with the Christ, our personal ego-selves do not disappear but are matured into something universal and eternal. We do not necessarily lose our individual expression, although we do lose the petty, ego-driven parts of ourselves that insist we are other or better than anyone or anything else. We give up that in us which keeps us from being the whole and holy persons we know ourselves to be, which is the Christ within. As we grow closer to our Christ-like potential, we willingly allow that which is un-Christ-like to transform because it is no longer of interest or use to us. Even so, it is not so much a giving up as a maturing and revealing of what has been present all along.
I liken this to my experience of becoming a parent. I gave up a lot of things and experiences that were important to me at one time. But as I aligned myself with my role as “Dad” I did not consider what I gave up as sacrificial. Fatherhood brought new interests that made my old interests fall into far lesser significance. Those parts of myself did not disappear, but they matured and were redirected into something more consistent with the person I was becoming.
In the traditional and misleadingly masculine language of the Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), the Christ is the Son. In more inclusive and descriptive trinitarian language we can name these three persons or manifestations of God as Creator, Created, and Relationship. God (the Father/Creator) creates physical manifestations of God (the Son/Created) by entering into matter. The relationship between the Father/Creator and Son/Created is a third manifestation of God called the Holy Spirit/Relationship. It is the interaction between the Creator and what is Created that shapes the third manifestation, which is the Relationship. We see this manifested all around us in the relationship between a parent and child, husband and wife, teacher and student. These relationships are unique to the two people involved, as if having a life of their own, but cannot be said to be exclusive to one or the other. They are a third something that is a unique product of a unique relationship. If we change one of the persons or add another person, the relationship changes accordingly.
The Creator (God/Father) is the energy that impregnates the material of the earth and creates life as we know it (Son/Creation). That life is always a product of Spirit of God penetrating and animating physical matter. This, then, is the Christ – the eternally chosen child resulting from the uniting of the energy of the Creator with the matter of the earth. It is the essence of everything we recognize as creation today, everything created in the past, and everything yet to be created. This Christ is universal, transcending time, space, religion, culture, gender, and every other humanly-created category we can possibly imagine.
In spite of claiming the Christ title, Christianity has no greater claim on the Christ reality than do any of the other world religions. They are each their own unique expression of the same reality, manifesting in their particular culture, space, and time. Because most Christians consider themselves followers of Jesus of Nazareth, we might better be called Jesuits. Interestingly, the word catholic, which was the name given the initial large-scale manifestation of the Christian church, means universal. It was never intended to be exclusive to a particular set of beliefs or practices, certainly not by Jesus. Rather, it was intended to serve as a spiritual umbrella under which all belief systems and believers could co-exist in respect, honor, mutual care, and peace.
This is the 48th in the series of Life Notes titled Churchianity vs Christianity. I invite your thoughts, insights, and feedback via email at email@example.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.