This post is meant for the one who searches, who is never satisfied with what they have yet uncovered. Whose inner being is restless with the quest to solve the human condition. Who isn’t afraid to ask big questions and is tired of the trite responses they get in return. I want to say to you, me too. The greatest thing I’ve ever learned about Jesus, is that He as the divine order of the universe, stepped into my space and said, “Me too.” Whatever I am experiencing in the rhythms of the human condition, Jesus says, “Me too.” This relation has recently meant so much to me. As I mature, I find how I have often overlooked the seriousness and difficulty of circumstances in others’ lives, because I myself have not been through them. The more I learn about relationships, people, community, taxes, sickness, or whatever else, I realize that I have a tendency to throw religious platitudes down on people who were experiencing things in life I could never understand or relate to–addictions, relational frustration, fear, doubt, accusations, deaths you name it. My little soda straw view of the world has allowed me to be able to do this. Don’t get me wrong, much of this sort of counsel was helpful and comforting I’m sure, and also there were so many instances I know where God prepared me to be able to say “Me too” and I didn’t even know it! But recently, this reality has been making a mark on my praying and my thinking. It alters my universe to think that God, the one whose word the entire cosmos depends, made himself a poor man so he could say, “Me too.” Not some religious platitude about good plans and prosperity if I just believe, but a real, gritty, with me response to the confusion of trails and victories alike. Because let’s be honest, achieving is sometimes as scary as losing, because what if it’s not what I expected?
In studying the annals of western and eastern philosophy and every major religion in existence, it is obvious to me now that Marx was right when called religion the “opium of the masses.” So many times, I have settled for the numbing distraction, the “sigh of my soul” over injustice in my pursuit of God. I can’t help but to see now, however, how this category is wholly inappropriate for a curious Jewish man who laid down his life for his friends. I don’t fully understand or relate to the modern, American “I’m spiritual but not religious” quip–not that there is something wrong with it if that means a lot to you, I just can’t personally relate to it. Because, to me, comparing Jesus to religion is like comparing marriage to a textbook…and a textbook without pictures. Not only is it wildly insufficient, its categorization makes no sense at all. But maybe we can come at this another way, maybe I’m just fluffing up my position with a straw man so you’ll be more prone to believe me. After all, what about the notion of human progress? Give us more time, we’ll discover, know, learn, and unearth and then we shall satisfy. We shall make right our injustices, and clean up the messes of our less evolved peers. Neitsche, Rawls, Socrates, Confucius, Zimmerman, Plato, you name it, all good hearts with tantalizing theories.I know, for years I gave myself to this thinking. Using a concept of human progress to answer my deepest questions of our philosophical woes is rooted in so much compassion, goodness, and a strong dose of reality. However, it can’t satisfy my desire to make all things right, organized, healed, and just or even come close–no matter which empire is currently believing in its exceptionalism and immortality. It never will. Heck, I can’t barely even agree on what justice is! And this is why Jesus isn’t a religion, because he claims He did that for you, and wants to give it to you no strings attached, because He has it and you need it and he likes you.
For one reason or another, the Holy Spirit has been revealing to me lately (and only a fraction of it I’m sure) how this mentality frees me up to be human. By this I mean the proper, pre-designed, and appropriate, (and without-help-unattainable) version of being human. I look at Jesus and often wonder if aside from his supernatural ministry, if he also simply modeled what it meant to be fully human, what God intended. Jesus’ mentality of desiring to be one with us, the very object of his grace, purpose, and affection, frees him up not to try to fit all of our problems and victories in categories, but simply be there with us in the grittiest of life’s moments. Likewise, he puts into order the grandest of today’s global strife and development. I wonder if this is the sentiment an artist like Springsteen taps into, the hunger for our inner beings to connect with passion, redemption, and meaning we see but can’t attain in everyday life. Beyond the superficial and instead straight to the heart of this moment, this trial, this high point right now.
Ecclesiastes is to me a hinge point of scripture. The author–the son of the great King David who has everything he wanted including supernatural wisdom–discovered that literally nothing satisfies. Not even political control, spiritual importance, a big family, or wealth. He found nothing new under the sun as his saying goes. Yet, in this broken state of confronting the reality of life, he declares that God must be the true God of the universe. Everything, he has experienced, depends of his very real authority. In this state, a man must come before this God ready to listen, to just be, not wanting or needing any list of to do’s, but just be with Him that he may know. And Jesus affirms this when He teaches prayer, extolling you to not worry about what you get from God because He already knows what you need and will take care of you if you just relax. More than that He wants to be in communion with you. Suddenly, this space of prayer will drastically change your reality. My advice, get off the opium of religious platitudes or the anxious toil of human political progress that is keeping your soul afloat, and let the presence of God ruin your comfort, control, and handle on what you think is. And then, you may taste the truth that you have so longingly sought.