By Eric Butterworth
A New Look at Jesus
Without a doubt, the most important individual figure in the history of the world is Jesus Christ. For two thousand years many millions of lives have been influenced by his teachings, as variously interpreted by many divisions and schisms that have sprung up in his name. If you happen to be a Christian, reared in either the Catholic or the Protestant tradition, or if you are part of one of the Jewish orders, or even if you consider yourself to be a non-believer, an agnostic, or even a practicing atheist, without question, you have formed attitudes or perhaps strong prejudices about Jesus. This is because the whole flow of western civilization has been so completely involved with the organized Christian church and the outreach of the Christian ideals.
I would like to invite you, perhaps to challenge you, to join with me in taking a fresh look at Jesus. First of all, we must go back to First Century Christianity, before there was any formally organized Christian church. We cannot catch the real dynamic of Jesus unless we see that he was a man, a highly evolved man to be sure, but a man. He was one such as you and I. He had emotions, such as anxiety and grief and impatience, as you and I might have. He was a great Truth-seeker, an adventurer in the realm of Spirit, who made a tremendous discovery of what I call “the unitive relationship between God and man.” It was because of this discovery, in himself, that he achieved the power to do all things. He discovered something in himself, which he believed was fundamental to all persons. His teaching was that the Kingdom of God is within you—that this dynamic potential to achieve and to overcome is a level within yourself that the Apostle Paul called, “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” [Corinthians. 1:27] Jesus said, and mind you, he said this: “…the works that I do shall he [you] do also; and greater works than these shall he [you] do….” [John 14:12] That is the key.
Surely, Jesus has a message for us today. But we must see the difference between what I call the religion about Jesus and the religion of Jesus. Theology, the religion about Jesus, talks of the Divinity of Jesus and that we must believe in him to be saved. On the other hand, the religion of Jesus, as found in his teachings, emphasizes the Divinity of man, and that if you believe in your innate unity with God, your contact a Dynamic Power, then you are one with flow of the means by which you can change your life. This is the fundamental that I think has been grossly understated, if not lost. I believe that this is what Jesus was all about.
How many times have you heard or read or perhaps seen scrawled in public places, the words from John 3:16: “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life”? That seems to imply that we should believe on the son, and it is understandable to assume that it means Jesus. Here is what Meister Eckhart, a medieval monk, who was a delightful person and a tremendous philosopher, said of this passage: “God never begot but one son, but the Eternal is forever begetting the only begotten.” The “only begotten son,” as he puts it, is that which is begotten only of God; this refers to that of man, that of you and me, which is not human, not of the world, that does not come from a certain heredity or environment. It refers to that of us, which also means that of you, that is the pure creation of God. It is our unitive relationship with God. It is that of us which is forever at one [with God], forever God’s Child, forever God expressing through us, even beyond the seeming limitations of life. When we believe on this innate unity, this innate Divine Potential, then he shall not die, “but have everlasting life.”
It is interesting when we begin to see this in the clearest context, because, despite all the studies of Jesus, few persons have caught the real meaning of his life and teaching. He was not God becoming man; rather, he was man on the quest, man making the great discovery of his innate Divinity—of the God-possibility within—man proving the Christ in man, his inherent potential for overcoming and for eternal life. In a way, we have been mislead by the focus on Jesus’ Divinity, overlooking the fact that he focused on our Divinity. Again, “the works that I do shall he [you] do also” he said…that is, if we make the decision of faith, if we know ourselves to be one with this Divine Flow.
Yes it is true: We must make the decision for the Christ in ourselves, to follow the guidance of the Divine Light within us and make the discovery of the unity in ourselves that Jesus found in himself. Obviously this means that we must recognize the difference between “Jesus” and “Christ.” Jesus was the man who discovered that Divine Level of God in man, which is “the Christ;” and the Christ is that God Level, which is inherent in every person. Remember, Paul said, “Christ in you, your hope of glory.” The Christ of you is the God-Self of you. We must discover it in ourselves, even as Jesus discovered in himself. In other words, I believe that we should see Jesus as the great discoverer of the Innate Divinity of man, the supreme revealer of the Truth about man, who was a pioneer and a way-shower in the quest for self-realization, and to follow him in this consciousness. I think we want to see him turning to his fellow beings, such as you and me, and saying: “Come and stand as I stand, and view the Infinite Reality of things from the perspective that I have found, and see yourself in the light of this God-Self, this Christ-Self of you, as I have seen myself in this light. Believe on me and the actual demonstration of the Divinity of man that I have made. And realize what this actually means: that you have this same potential within you. What I have done, you can do. So, join me, come here, stand with me, think with me, pray with me, analyze the technique that I have found to be effective. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me. And when you have mastered yourself, as I have mastered myself, then you will do as I have done, and even greater things than these will you do.” This is paraphrasing it and putting it into the language that I believe was involved—which may be somewhat challenging to some, but think about it.
Jesus is saying that man must know himself as the Self-Livingness of God; and that the problems of life come, like the Prodigal Son (which is the example that Jesus uses in his parable), we take our inheritance and go off into the “far-country” of living at the circumference of life, and there, we unfailingly come “to know want.” So our goal is: we must turn back and, in a sense, to “confess Christ,” which simply means to realize our unity with the Infinite, the Christ of our own being—to know that the God-Self of us is the Reality of us. We must believe in the “I Am Self.” We must begin to act the part, to act the concept that each of us is God expressing Himself as that which we are.
Often we use the phrase “Let go, and let God.” This is little more than a platitude, until we make a conscious decision to really let God take over in every area of our lives. We may be slow to make this decision, not realizing that it is a decision, indeed. There is far more involved than simply saying to ourselves, “Well, maybe God can handle this in a little better than I can, and if He has any good ideas on the subject I’ll consider them.” But, it is a matter of coming to a momentous conclusion concerning our Unity with God—“Unity” meaning, “Oneness”—concerning the infinite potential of the Christ indwelling ourselves, the God-Self. Then making the decision to act as if it were true! This is where Jesus comes in. If we think simply of the great power within, we do not fully accept all that Jesus discovered. Jesus discovered that basic unity, the key to power, and we must continually remember what he achieved and how he did it. If we lose sight of his part, and of his consciousness, then we may well be back trying to do things in human awareness.
As we remember Jesus Christ, we acknowledge that we can do what he did…and greater. So, Jesus actually can become the saving influence in our lives. This is not holding to the man Jesus—it is realizing that unity with the Infinite, revealed and demonstrated by him in his life work. Remember, what God has done, God can do; and what Jesus accomplished, we can accomplish, if we believe on him and the great demonstration he made of the Christ that was in him, which is likewise in each of us. Follow all this with a personal “decision for Christ”—which is a term that is used, and I think misunderstood—a decision for the Divine Level of ourselves, not Jesus, but the God-Self within us, a decision to live on the basis of that realization.
So, refer to Jesus as you will, but be careful never to miss what he came to reveal: The Christ in you is the principle of your own Divine Son-ship, your personal unitive relationship between God and man.
© Eric Butterworth