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The very thing which is now called the Christian religion existed among the ancients also, nor was it wanting from the inception of the human race until the coming of Christ in the flesh, at which point the true religion which was already in existence began to be called Christian.
St. Augustine
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"...the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Colossians 1:26-27
New King James Bible

The quote at the end of today's essay is from Karen Drucker's song, "There Is Only Love". We use a lot of Karen Drucker music at my church. If you enjoy uplifting and inspirational music, that encourages a higher perspective and more personal experience of God, I highly recommend her music:
There Is Only Love

In this moment, in this place
I remember who I AM
Letting fear and worry fall away from me
I open my eyes and see

There is only love,
There is only love,
Love that heals, love that sets us free,
There is only, only love.....

When I lose myself,
When it seems I've lost my way,
When I go inside and quiet my mind
I can hear Spirit gently say

There is only love,
There is only love,
Love that heals, love that sets us free,
There is only, only love.....

"There is Only Love"
"Songs of the Spirit II"
Karen Drucker
Musings, Ramblings and Minor Insights
March 12, 2009

Why DID Jesus 'Have To' Die???
I receive a little religious magazine in the mail from the Christian denomination that I was raised in. I'm not sure why. I certainly never subscribed to it. I suspect that my father or his church signed me up for it, hoping to entice me back into the fold. But I've never asked him. I do remember our local church doing this when I was a child. We were always gung-ho to get as many people as possible into 'The Truth'. We knew that was our special mission as God's 'new Chosen People' and we knew the consequences for them if we didn't.

Sometimes I glance at this magazine, even read an article or two. Usually I make a determination that I'm better off to just chuck it into the nearest recycle bin. However, the April 2009 issue has an article that caught my eye. It's entitled "Why Jesus Had to Die".

There was nothing new in this article, nothing that I hadn't heard hundreds of times before. I probably could have quoted it verbatim without even reading it! But one thing I did notice: This author conceded that some folks might feel that God's 'Plan of Salvation' doesn't make sense. He immediately followed this with,
"But as created beings, how can we presume to judge God's way of saving us from sin and reconciling us to Himself?"
That was pretty much the standard answer we always received in response to questions or doubt: 'God's ways are not our ways.' Or the one that really got under my skin: 'Never trust your own human reasoning.' The only alternative was to trust what the church, or the pastor, or the Bible said that God said. God, of course, couldn't speak for himself--that's why he designated these specialists to explain to us less capable underlings exactly what his expectations and demands were. I realize now that, even as a young child, I was conflicted between what I was told was 'truth' and what my own mind had managed to figure out. On the outside, I was a 'good girl', embracing enthusiastically and trying hard to follow all the rules that our church said God insisted upon. But inside that young mind of mine, I was a very naughty girl indeed! I questioned, I wondered, I doubted, I rebelled. I have definitely always been one of those people the author of this article was referring to as "those to whom God's solution doesn't make sense." And I had to deal with this all alone. I knew I didn't dare to ask questions or express my doubts. I remember once (I couldn't have been more than eight years old at the time), my mind just couldn't contain these doubts any longer. So I furtively wrote on a piece of paper the following words:
'Jesus is not real and I know it.'
My mother found it...... Oh my goodness, was she ever distressed over this! I remember it like it was yesterday! She properly chastised me for it (although she didn't manage to change my mind). This was when I knew that I had to keep such thoughts to myself in the future. This episode was unpleasant enough--but if it happened again, and my father found out.... Well I still can't bring myself to imagine what might have happened. Suffice to say, it would have been far worse than unpleasant!!!

When I reached adulthood, I managed to stash much of this religious training on a high shelf in the back of my mind and began to explore the world. It didn't stay on the shelf very long, however. It seems that, even though we may reject the specifics of an indoctrination we don't agree with, we maintain the style of thinking that produces such ideas. The black-and-white, either/or, 'absolute truth' way of perceiving the world can be a very crippling viewpoint. Inside a church, or outside, in the 'REAL' world. I feel like I spent many, many years spinning my wheels, getting nowhere, as I thought and thought and thought and thought. Then I began reading. Religious books, theology, books that have been streaming from academia the past several years, from scholars who were not afraid to ask the hard questions that I always wanted to:
John Shelby Spong
Karen Armstrong
Burton L. Mack
John Dominic Crossan
Marcus J. Borg
Robert M. Price
Bruce Bawer
Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer
The list could go on and on. I have an extensive library of religious and theological books and Bibles. Enough to keep me reading all day every day until I'm at least 90! But, books are not enough. If they were, I would have resolved my mental and emotional conflict years ago. What I have needed, and what I am just now beginning to find in this church I am currently attending, is the knowledge that others besides myself, REAL people from all walks of life, have asked these same questions. I longed to share my story with someone who could say, "Yes, I know exactly what you mean. I too have had similar experiences. Felt the doubt, the pain, the confusion."

It's a new and exciting and somewhat frightening journey. But at long last, it is finally MY journey. No one else's. The 'voices' which for so many years seemed to clamor in my head, "You're bad, you shouldn't, you'll go to hell," have started to quiet down and fade into the background. And the quiet, patient, enduring voice that I now recognize as the REAL God is winning out more and more often. Quietly and gently reminding me: "You are not evil. You are not bad. I would never condemn you. Because I am only love." Woo-hoooo..... it gives me goose bumps just thinking about it!

So, back to the original question: "Why did Jesus 'have to' die??? Well, my thinking is that Jesus listened to that Higher Voice. And he spoke his truth. No matter the consequences. Speaking the truth (especially when it went against the powers-that-be) was a very dangerous thing to do in those days, and it got him killed for his trouble. But the important thing to learn from this is: He followed his heart, he did what he knew in his heart was right, and he didn't let fear or opposition deter him. And he set an example for generations to come: Listen to that 'still, small voice' within, follow it, believe in it, never allow the naysayers to shout you down. There is hope, there is peace, there is a reality far beyond the confines of this world. And you will find it, right there inside you. The God that dwells in each of us--that 'Christ in you, the hope of glory' (Colossians 1:26-27). Speaking quietly to us. Words of love, and compassion, and support.
"Love that heals, love that sets us free
  There is only Love...."
"There is Only Love"
Karen Drucker

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