“Of all the world’s peoples, we moderns have traveled farthest from the harmony of the world and spirit, and a daily perception that our world is sacred. We are almost completely surrounded by our own artifacts, and we see them through the lenses of our own preoccupations with power, profit, and pride. We also feel the emptiness that results.”—Gus DiZerega, Pagans and Christians: The Personal Spiritual Experience
Conservative Christians have been saying all kinds of crazy stuff these days. The Jesus they present sounds more like an Anglo-Saxon venture capitalist than a Palestinian rabbi who taught us to take care of “the least of these.” This materialistic view of Jesus, who also has a superiority complex, has NOTHING to do with the Jesus of the gospels. The kingdom of God that Jesus spoke of frequently is a commonwealth of reversals that is diametrically opposed to economic systems that oppress the poor and powerless.
This alternative view of community is embodied in the Greek word KOINONIA. We see KOINONIA in action in the life of the early Christian community in Jerusalem: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers…All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people.” (Acts 2:42-47)
This is a far cry from televangelists who own multi-million dollar homes and live extravagant lifestyles. It’s also a far cry from those who see their affluence as a blessing from God while they ignore the needs of the poor and oppressed around them.
This is where our Pagan brothers and sisters come in. They have much to teach the Christian community about what it means to be the Christian community. I know some people might think that’s an odd statement, but it’s the truth. Pagans have a deep reverence for nature and try to live in harmony wit it. When one sees the presence of the Divine in all things, it changes the way you look at the world. Suddenly, the world is not a thing to be exploited but a gift to be treasured. Furthermore, when one believes that the Holy resides in everyone (like Christians are supposed to believe) it changes the way you interact with others. It brings us closer to the way the first Christian community lived.
If Christianity is going to survive, it has to evolve. Conservative Christians believe people like me are heretics and are killing the Church. Funny, I thought I was trying to breathe new life into it and help it become the alternative, counter-cultural community Jesus always hoped it would be. Christianity has got to find a way to stop its superiority dance and live humbly alongside all people of faith, no matter what that faith may be. We also need to learn to be infinitely better stewards of this amazing planet the Eternal One has given to all of us. Thankfully, our Pagan friends are way ahead of us in this regard and they have much to teach the followers of Jesus if we only have “ears to hear” them.
Copyright ©2016 by David Taliesin, http://www.sabbatsandsabbaths.com