Going out on a limb here…..on the journey of spiritual growth toward awakened enlightenment, we might want to believe some of the teachers who have gone before us. Today’s blog offers a more expansive and generally inclusive interpretation of the now infamous John 3:16.
We see it on signs at sporting events, hanging from billboards and plastered on bumper stickers. The now infamous, “John 3:16.” So, what does it say and what does it mean? Here is what it says:
“God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him
might not perish but might have eternal life.”
But, what does it mean?
This is where things get a little dodgy. I have a pretty strong sense that those who wave around the banner of John 3:16 mean to take this literally, word for word. 1) God is a man. 2) Jesus is “the only Son” 3) If you do not accept Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, you are condemned to “die.” (which means you get to spend eternity languishing in the firey pits of hell). Since I’m not a literalist and since I believe God’s love is quite a bit bigger than we humans tend to give God credit for, I have a hard time believing this perspective on John 3:16.
God is bigger than the Boogie man…
1) I can no longer accept the idea that the mighty Creator, the Absolut Source, the Divine Essence, the Presence and ultimate Truth can only be expressed or experienced as a man. For me, God is not only bigger than the “Boogie man”, but is far beyond what we can even begin to imagine, describe or attempt to define. God is the all–man, woman, spirit, lover, friend, energy, life, creation, Presence, Absence…and everything in between.
Now I’m really going to get into trouble. Jesus the only Son? What does that mean? With all the amazing spiritual teachers and leaders who have come into our world, I have a hard time thinking of Jesus as the do all, end all, be all. Now don’t get me wrong, Jesus is my dude! I love this man. He rocks. He got it. He taught it. He lived it. Jesus is the teacher I go to when I am seeking insight, wisdom, peace, clarity, humility. And…there have been others who have gotten it, taught it and lived it, and there are from whose teachings I have also benefitted. Some might suggest that the problem here is that we are assuming the author of John was speaking exclusively about Jesus, when in fact, he may have been referring to Christ – Christ being the “anointed”, the Divine potential of all of humanity and that Jesus was just one out of an infinite number of human beings who have and who will reach their own Christhood. I know….brains are exploding everywhere as I even suggest such blasphemy…..I’m just saying….there might be another perspective on this whole “only Son” idea. For many, the jury is probably still out on this one.
Believe in him
So whether or not the author of John was speaking exclusively about Jesus, the man, or the universal Christ that might be the potential of all of humanity…..he/she was talking about the importance of belief. So what are we supposed to believe? Some would hold that the author is telling us we have to believe in Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior so that we may have eternal life. I have heard others suggest that what is being expressed here is an invitation to believe in what Jesus taught and modeled. If we believe the truth that Jesus taught, that we are One with God through love and that through this love we are also one with one another and all of creation….and that belief in this truth is the key to entering the “kingdom” HERE AND NOW….and that in this “kingdom” we shall know the peace that surpasseth all understanding (I know, these are really Paul’s words…but I think Jesus might have said something similar.)…..then we shall have a life that transcends the death of the human condition. HMMMM…..sounds like something I can sink my teeth into.
Ok….the good news is that a lightning bolt has not come down out of the heavens and struck me down for speaking such blasphemy. Maybe God (and Jesus) are a whole lot bigger than we ever give them credit for. What if the “saving” is more about transcending the false perception of separation that is the cause of all human suffering and embracing whatever source helps us find tools through which we can find the peaceful contentment, compassion and joy that make up our truest nature so that we might experience everlasting life in the HERE and NOW. And if we miss it this time around….we can trust that there is peace on the other side….no matter whose banner of truth we want to wave. Just a thought.
Do you know peace, contentment and joy in your life?
What are the obstacles to that peace?
What spiritual practices might you explore to help you cultivate the peace that is your original nature?
Authentic Freedom Ministries