I was staggered to read in the Weekend Australian (26/27 September 2009) that a group of fifteen Christian denominations are about to launch a $1.5 million campaign to ‘promote’ Jesus.
Isn’t Jesus the ‘Son of God’, the creator of all that exists? Why does he need to be promoted? It seems a bit presumptuous – for us, human beings that God created, to ‘promote’ our creator. Anyway Jesus is not a ‘commodity’; Jesus is not a product. Jesus does not sell anything. Neither should Christianity. Didn’t Jesus condemn the money changers operating out of the synagogues (the ‘churches’ of his time)? So what are these people trying to do? Are their congregations diminishing; are their church coffers nearly empty and they are tired of scraping the barrel and need to recruit more members? The trouble is a belief, a faith, cannot be ‘sold’. It is not a one size fits all thing. The very fact that there are fifteen, out of God knows how many Christian denominations and faith based groups, emphasises my point. Everyone has their own interpretation of the central message that Jesus tried to pass on to his followers.
Now I have no desire to become involved in any discussions about religion (they inevitably become acrimonious) because as I said before, it is a very personal thing, and we all have our own interpretations on what it all means and how it affects us. But to me, and this is my own interpretation of what the central message is, has been quite plainly given to us by Jesus (and I paraphrase here using language from the King James translation):
• Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy mind and with all thy soul.
• Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
• Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.
If one could follow and live by those three basic tenets or ‘commandments’ then I believe one would lead a ‘good’ life and die a contented and peaceful person. Apart from this I have never understood one of Christianity’s beliefs – that we should put all our individual problems on to the shoulders of one ‘person’ – Jesus.
To me Jesus is the intermediary between us humans and God. As humans, with our mental cognitive limitations, we are incapable of comprehending the total Majesty of the Creator of all. I think the best ‘description’ I have ever read of this Majesty is in the Bhagavad-Gita (I quote from Chapter 10, and selectively from verses 20 to 34):
“... I am the Self, seated in the hearts of all beings; I am the beginning and the life, and am the end of them all.
Of all creative Powers I am the Creator, of luminaries the Sun; the Whirlwind among the winds, and the Moon among planets....
I am the King-python among snakes, I am the Aqueous Principle among those that live in water, I am the Father of fathers, and among rulers I am Death....
I am the Beginning, the Middle and the End in creation; among sciences I am the science of Spirituality; I am the Discussion among disputants....
Of letters I am A; I am the copulative in compound words; I am Time inexhaustible; I am the all-pervading Preserver.
I am all-devouring Death; I am the Origin of all that shall happen; I am Fame, Fortune, Speech , Memory, Intellect, Constancy and Forgiveness...
I am the Seed of all being; ... no creature moving or unmoving can live without Me.
Whatever is glorious, excellent, beautiful and mighty, be assured that it comes from a fragment of my Splendour.
... I sustain this universe with only a small part of Myself.”
We just cannot comprehend all this so we need someone, a figure, an intermediary between God and us; we need something to focus on; that we can look up to and aspire to emulate, such as Jesus, or Mohamed, or Krishna, or the Buddha that will show us the path to follow.
Does this need promoting? I don’t think so.