I know, right?… How can I call myself a Christian and say that there are more ways to the top of the mountain than through Jesus?
Well, if this were the question, I’d say that we need a new one. In my opinion, this one falls flat on its face from the get-go.
The whole notion of having to climb anything in order to gain divine favor is complete bosh. This was Luther’s breakthrough — that there is no spiritual ladder to climb. Grace is freely given at birth. We are redeemed in God because we are… here.
And so, I’m of the belief that there is no required mountain to climb. I feel at peace in this notion.
Now, if anyone wants to climb a spiritual mountain, they should do it. If they feel the urge to work on themselves and become more mindful, compassionate, forgiving, prayerful, etc. — they should be free to climb away knowing that God is living through them just as always. But it has nothing to do with their ‘standing’ in any divine pecking order. We need to be aware that spiritual climbing of any sort is largely of the ego (which is fine — the ego is an integral part of our human experience) and can easily turn into an ego-contrived spiritual pissing contest.
Okay, so let’s throw out the notion of having to climb anything for God. And let’s move on to the Jesus thing…
Now, there are countless ways to interpret the Jesus story, but I like to focus on the ‘Christ’ part of it. Christ wasn’t Jesus’ last name. So when we say that ‘Christ has risen’, we don’t strictly mean the historical Jesus has risen (though it is a beautiful, redemptive story held in a certain light).
What ‘Christ’ points to is a sort of consciousness that’s been woven into the fabric of being since the big bang boomed.
This Christ consciousness is baked into the essence of life (and death) itself. It is the self-emptying, unconditionally loving, abundantly creative, and audaciously redemptive spirit of life itself. Jesus was just a man who pointed out in a radical way how to live in alignment with this Christ consciousness.
And so, when I see a Buddhist monk walking meditatively in downtown Chicago, I see the Christ consciousness in action. When I see a family at the airport bowing towards the eastern horizon, I see the Christ consciousness in action. When I hear of an atheist physicist working on a new way to relate to our material world, I recognize the Christ consciousness in action. And when I hear of someone on their knees, suffering in whatever way they’re suffering — I pray for the mercy of the Christ consciousness to meet them where they are and bring them into new life.
This is how I can be a Christian in this increasingly pluralistic world.
Jesus didn’t live and die just to give us a new way to divide ourselves from others. He gave us a framework with which to integrate all of life — rich to poor, Jew to gentile, male to female, alpha to omega — all of it united in God’s embrace.
This is the power of Christianity to me. It’s not about getting everyone to think and believe the same things I do. It’s about recognizing the imperfect redemptive beauty and intelligence in everyone and all of life.