Things would be so much simpler if there were only one way, wouldn’t they? One way to do things, one way to be, one way to think, one way to believe. We’d always agree and get along much better because we’d all be going the same way.
My way, of course.
Ah, there’s the problem. We need it to be our way. The world needs to change for me. Unfortunately, our individuality allows for the possibility of unity in our diversity - a struggle, to be sure, but always a possibility - but not uniformity. That would require us to be all the same, with no distinctiveness.
That’s not to say that we don’t try to achieve some level of uniformity, usually with painful and disastrous results, invariably with oppression and injustice and the attempted eradication of difference. It would be so much easier to make a better world if I just had power over everyone else to make them more, well, me. Wouldn’t it?
We’re not always like that, of course. Sometimes we can see the value of the hard way, the challenge of being open to others, to sharing ourselves with them and welcoming them to share themselves with us. We share stories and we learn. We find a way to build community, where we meet the challenge of finding a way to build each other up, together.
I think that’s what Jesus is all about. I think the life of Jesus teaches that there is a one-ness in us. It’s the one-ness of each of us being good, of each of us being created of the divine spirit and of the earth, of each of us being connected and each of us being all part of one great, well, one-ness. But what makes that one-ness great and powerful and alive is the uniqueness each brings to it. We’re a universe of diversity.
I think the life of Jesus is about showing us how to live together into that one-ness by being the best of who we are.
But here’s a thing: I also think Jesus never meant for us to think that he, the being named Jesus, was the only way. I don’t think Jesus ever meant for us to worship him as we would God. I don’t think Jesus meant for us to think that we, the followers of Jesus, have the one and only exclusive route to God.
The author of the Gospel of John tells that Jesus repeatedly describes himself with “I am” sayings. Most agree there’s seven of them: I am the Bread of Life; the Light of the World; the Gate of the sheepfold; the Good Shepherd; the Resurrection and the Life; the Way, the Truth and the Life; the true Vine. I don’t doubt that the author of John was trying to shore up support for the fledgling community of the followers of Jesus by putting the emphasis on the “I” part of the equation, meaning specifically me, Jesus. But I don’t think that’s how Jesus would speak to the world, especially a world as divisive as the one we live in.
When Jesus says “I,” I think he means his being, all that he is and all that he’s shown us. Not the label “Jesus,” but the love, grace, compassion, openness and vulnerability which “I” have shown you. It’s about the essence of who and what Jesus is, not the name or the structure or, especially, the religion. That’s how we can all be Jesus, too, even if the name’s different, the religion’s different, the culture’s different, the person is different.
I’m not insisting you agree and do and think that. I’m just asking you to think about it.