Jesus, the Voice of A Course in Miracles, tells us that ‘some bitter idols have been made of him who would be only brother to the world’. And he is so right in that. I thought I’d write a little about my own emerging friendship with and trust in Jesus, through my studies of the Course. At one time I found the Christian terminology and symbolism in the teachings difficult to relate to, and from discussions with others on the path it appears that I was not alone in this, due to past experiences.
Throughout my own childhood and ‘conditioning’, the Jesus that was sold to me by school, church and society simply didn’t resonate with me. I couldn’t understand the dichotomy of the message that I received – that I must worship a Jesus who was affronted should I not worship him, and that he loved me unconditionally but would judge me and find me wanting if I didn’t ‘believe in him’. How could I worship or even relate to this ‘gentle Jesus’ who appeared to be judgmental, frightening and exclusive? If I didn’t ‘believe in him’ the consequences would be dire, and for millions around the world their fate was sealed as they had not been born into a system that worshipped in his church.
I remember as a youngster asking ‘what about the Hindus and the Muslims?’ and I was told ‘well they know about Jesus, so if they don’t accept him as their Saviour they will go to hell’. This then begged the question ‘what about the pygmies, in the jungle, who haven’t even heard of him?’. The response was that they would be OK because they hadn’t heard of Jesus, but once they did hear about him, then they knew about him and must then ‘believe in him’ or it would be tickets for them too.
To a child’s mind this was horrific and deeply contradictory to a knowing I carried within me. There were many further messages received which indicated Christianity (as I perceived it) was not the path for me, and I was curious as to how others found such solace and enrichment in a Jesus that I could not embrace.
Over time I found myself resistant to the idea of Jesus (decidedly squeamish actually!) and what he stood for, as he had been sold to me and as I had interpreted him. Despite this, and for reasons that are beyond the ‘little me’ I was attracted to the Jesus of A Course in Miracles as strongly as a moth is attracted to a flame. The ‘knowing’ kept pulling me back, assuring me there was a wholly benign, loving and fascinating Jesus here, and he would reveal himself to me. I was delighted to find myself exposed to a wealth of information on Jesus; material such as Glenda Green’s ‘Love Without End’, Yogananda’s writings, the Gnostic Gospels, Micael Ledwith and more, that explored and supported my new discoveries about who this enigmatic character actually was, and is.
Interestingly Jesus is well aware of the difficulty that many have as we start our journey with A Course in Miracles. He makes reference to our dilemma several times and is very understanding of our feelings. He says in the quote below that he senses our reticence, and knows we have little trust to start with, but that in time he is confident that our trust in him will grow. For myself this has indeed been the case, and it has been a miraculous development of trust and friendship in a Presence who is always accessible, always walking with me.
‘You have very little trust in me as yet, but it will increase as you turn more and more often to me instead of to your ego for guidance. My trust in you is greater than yours in me at the moment, but it will not always be that way.’ (T.4.VI.3:1; 6:1)
In reading the Course it is a curious notion to think that we have to forgive Jesus. Yes, he asks that we forgive him! At first, this blew my mind. Jesus asks us to forgive him both for what he is and what he is not, and he asks us to see him differently to what we have been taught by religious conditioning. He tells us no-one can be less holy than he is… wow, that was a new one on me and how eagerly I embraced it!
’Forgive me, then, today. And you will know you have forgiven me if you behold your brother in the light of holiness. He cannot be less holy than can I, and you cannot be holier than he.’ (W-pII.288.2).
He insists we are just like him, totally equal in our holiness, and that he has no need of our worship, only our love and respect as a brother – he asks for our obedience of his guidance, because he knows that if we obey his guidance we will heal, learn and grow to be as he is.
‘Equals should not be in awe of one another because awe implies inequality. It is therefore an inappropriate reaction to me. An elder brother is entitled to respect for his greater experience, and obedience for his greater wisdom. He is also entitled to love because he is a brother, and to devotion if he is devoted. It is only my devotion that entitles me to yours. There is nothing about me that you cannot attain. I have nothing that does not come from God. The difference between us now is that I have nothing else. This leaves me in a state which is only potential in you.’ – Jesus, ACIM T.1.II.3
Many of us have grown up with the Christian teaching that Jesus is above us in all ways, and in that he is set apart from us. Anyone who we have placed on a pedestal is different to us and the illusion of separation is all about differences. Jesus is after all the one very special Son of God who died to atone for our sins, and we are the guilty sons who were the cause of his suffering, because of our transgressions. In the Course, Jesus teaches a beautiful and empowering message of the crucifixion (Chapter 6 in the Text), and he assures us that he is not special, he is just like you and I.
He tells us that as we awaken to our true Identity, we will recognise that we are all the Son of God, sharing the one Christ-mind. This will be the Second Coming, the awakening of humanity to its True Nature. Jesus is our brother, walking with us, our mighty companion on our journey home. He says in a few instances in the Course ‘take my hand’ and that he will never leave us. It’s important to note here, and again another reason to forgive him perhaps, that he is not a figure ‘out there’, separate from us either in heaven or in the world – he is a Presence, a symbol of Divine Love, a gently authoritative Voice within our mind, which makes him utterly accessible. As we turn to him we do so on behalf of the entire Sonship (the collective Sons of God).
’Brother, forgive me now. I come to you to take you home with me. And as we go, the world goes with us on our way to God’ (W-pII.342.2)
So, for myself I had to first forgive my own images of Jesus, what I had made of him – forgive him for what he had been sold to me as, and then also forgive him for what he is not, because what he is not did not match up to any of my expectations of him! What I mean by this, is the following.
If we have believed that in following Jesus we are part of his exclusive club, so to speak, then it’s likely our ego will be disappointed by his declarations in the Course.
Firstly, we must forgive him for not seeing any of us as special or unique because we have chosen him as our guide and our salvation. He sees us as all equal and the same, the one beloved Sonship, whether we choose to follow him or not; we are all innocent and our shared Divinity is what binds us and makes us One. Exclusivity flies out of the window. Jesus is a symbol of Love and absolute inclusiveness, no exceptions.
Secondly, Jesus asks not for our worship but suggests that gratitude is more appropriate for the remembrance that we are just like him and the same as all our brothers. Where is the mystique of Jesus if he is not ‘right up there’ and different, as one to be worshipped or idolised? Again, this is a paradigm shift – a Jesus who is not set apart from us but who is one with us.
Jesus as he explains in the Course has no investment in inducing ‘awe’, and that he can only help us if we see him as the same as us. If we see him as superior he remains distant to us, yet in our equality as he describes it, we can far more easily learn to be like him.
‘I have stressed that awe is not an appropriate reaction to me because of our inherent equality.’ – Jesus, ACIM T1.VII.5.6
Jesus in A Course in Miracles encourages us to ‘Teach rather that I did not die by demonstrating that I live in you.’ (T7:4-5). This request that we teach by demonstration is possible for all of us! It’s up to us to be the Light that we are and in so doing teach our brother that he is the same, not by preaching but by demonstrating that the Christ lives in us, and therefore in our brother, above and beyond all appearances and differences in form. We don’t proselytise – we simply demonstrate a better way of being in the world grounded on love, forgiveness, inclusiveness and reverence for all. We’re told to ‘teach only love, for that is what you are’.
What I’ve learnt from my understanding of Jesus in A Course in Miracles is that our true function and purpose is to BE the Light, to learn through the practice of forgiveness that we are the Love that Jesus says we are, grounded on our sameness and shared Divinity. And when we struggle to do this (and struggle we do) we have the help of Jesus within us, and he is incredibly patient and loving and will wait for as long as it takes for us to join him where he is.
‘If you want to be like me, I will help you, knowing we are alike. If you want to be different I will wait until you change your mind.’ – Jesus, ACIM T.11.VI.7.3
This Jesus is not easily affronted, nor judgmental, nor frightening, as I once perceived him to be. The shift in my perception from how he was sold to me as a child and young adult, to the Jesus of the Course – friend, teacher and brother of gentle authority who walks with me – has been a miracle I am deeply grateful for.