There are numerous aspects of the religion I was brought up in which annoy and even anger me. Perhaps the most undesirable, in my opinion, is the tendency to undermine humanity whilst using throwaway religious language that has little meaning or power to anyone. By far the biggest offender is the term:
If he does what would he think of the Church today? Would he revel in the worship of his name? Would he sit and get off on the millions of people that raise their arms to him every Sunday?
I don't want to make assumptions, but it is clear from the Gospels that Jesus, the teacher, mystic, healer, even in his lifetime was uncomfortable with this sort of attention. So it brings forth an interesting point doesn't it. For whose benefit are people worshipping him? Its not Jesus. Jesus does not benefit from worship. If he was just a man then chances are he's not around to hear it anyway. If he was God, well then if God is all powerful and all knowing and all singing and all dancing a being, he doesn't need to be worshipped or praised. Worship all to often in the western world is a selfish act that serves our emotional stability or justifies our emotional weakness. Worship can also be the projection of ourselves onto God. That is why there is an insistence that God resembles and acts like a human.
There is another problem though in living a life that supposedly follows Jesus. The majority of teaching from the evangelical church has been about calling on the power of Jesus to make things happen.
I once heard a story by a vicar who was shopping one day and he was greeted by an elderly lady.
"How nice to see you Rev Smith." she said.
Now the vicar smiled but was somewhat puzzled because he only had a small congregation and he did not recognise this lady.
"I'm ever so sorry, but I don't recall meeting you before." the vicar said politely.
"Oh I go to your Church." the lady said.
"I'm afraid I must be ignorant as well as blind because I really don't remember seeing you on a Sunday morning before."
"Oh I don't go on a Sunday morning. I go to bingo at the Church hall on a Tuesday night."
Now this is a pleasant and poignant story in its own right but there is more. I relayed this story to some one I knew who is a Christian and a rather evangelical one at that.
"Well I'm not sure about bingo in a Church?" they said. Then they pondered a little and then finished with, "Well I suppose if they are doing it in the name of Jesus that's' fine."
What? Bingo can only be justified in a Church if its done in the name of Jesus?
It would seem that amongst many people things have to be done in the name of Jesus. Permission and power is what it is all about. To do something in the name of Jesus is to give oneself authority, permission, power to act, to speak out, to discourage to inhibit. It doesn't matter what you do so long as its done in the name of Jesus. It also excuses the messenger even if it's the messenger that comes up with that message.
"I'm sorry you can't be part of our church because you are divorced, because you're gay, because you're still a drug addict, alcoholic, prostitute. You're welcome to attend the services but you can't be a full member until you change your behaviour! Hey, don't have a go at me! Its not me saying it! That's what the Bible says. Its God making the call here!"
How many crimes have been committed in this name? It is frightening to think. But it goes further, even among the more socially conscious Christians.
"I am speaking out against this human injustice in the name of Jesus."
"I want to help you go through healing in the name of Jesus."
"I help the homeless in the name of Jesus."
I suppose the intentions are good but the issue is, if someone doesn't do the above in the name of Jesus, does that mean their work is less important?
If we actually look at the ministry of this ancient mortal teacher, if we look at what he actually did and stood for, we see a very different man to what a significant part of the Church displays.
Jesus didn't minister to bring the power of God to the people of Israel. This mans' ministry was about showing people the power and permission that already existed in them. He taught so people could be free from the idea of sin as opposed to sin itself. He taught to help people to become who they were really meant to be. He taught people that they were already teachers, healers, lovers, fighters for justice and compassion. No new transaction of atonement needed to be performed. The only thing that needed to happen was for people to get over themselves and realise the potential that they were born with. Jesus did not devise form Christian theology.
So when someone says that the message of Jesus should be taken to the whole world. Maybe they're right but not in the way the Chruch would have it. Its not about cosmic salvation. It is about helping each other into a position where we are empowered to be what we were born for.
So it occurred to me then that if someone then stands up and says that they are doing something, saying something, in the name of Jesus, they are blaspheming against the very Holy Spirit that they supposedly inherited. If someone needs to call upon a name to give them supernatural power or ability beyond them or even to to dow hat is right, well then that's the very witchcraft that many Christians speak against.
If on the other hand, someone, anyone, Christian, non Christian, Atheist, Agnostic, Buddhist etc etc speaks up against a human injustice, empowers healing, saves a life, brings relief to the suffering without calling on the name of Jesus or anything other than the authority that exists in their own existence what does it mean? It means they have more faith in creation, more faith in God than any Christian that feels the need to qualify their actions with the empty Jesus stamp of approval.
By calling on the name of Jesus is to betray what we truly are.
The word Jesus is not a word that gives power, it doesn't save, it doesn't heal, it doesn't give authority. The worth in the teaching that this man spoke is that the authority is already there. Jesus was a teacher, and an example. His teachings are a vehicle, not an end point. A teacher doesn't pass exams for us, they merely tell us how to pass them.
Of course, once we have this realisation, there is nothing wrong with using names, icon, images to experience oneness as a personal focus on what needs to be achieved internally. This is not worship or calling on a name to give power however. This is focussing on what is already there within you.