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Understanding the truth about God was precluded by the
prevailing paradigm in the early Christian community.

What Went Wrong?

There is no question that Jesus had a significant impact on his society at the time, one that came to be a major influence in the world, and that Christianity was born and proceeded with fervor. The disciples were inspired by their time with the great teacher and the early group of Christians grew. Of course, the whole nation of Israel had heard about Jesus and the relevant events, and by some estimates 50% of the population had a favorable and sympathetic stance toward Jesus. How could they not? He identified with them and their problems. He didn't talk down to them from temple tiers or from behind a physical, psychological barrier lectern up on an elevated stage, but talked up to them standing at the bottom of a slope or in the lowest possible position, from a boat on the water. He had healed a lot of them or their relatives and friends, and he had never threatened them or beleaguered them in any way.

The early "church" lived in a bubble of expectation and confidence that Jesus would return very soon—we are talking days, weeks, maybe months but not initially years—and grew rapidly with an attitude of joyous loving, sharing, and celebration. At least until the persecution set in. Even then the numbers continued to increase. All of this is unique and impressive, but it didn't last. It was/is not enough for the following reasons.

At the time of Jesus on earth, the Jews were looking for a savior of the nation, not of the cosmos nor even of the world. They were looking for the Messiah who was to be a representative of God, and had a short list of miracles that would qualify and verify such a person. But they had no concept that THE ORIGINATOR himself would come instead of some Messiah. Anything but that!

Matthew 16:18-20   On THIS rock I will build my church, and the powers of death shall not prevail against it.  I will give you the keys of the kingship of the heavens, and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."  Then he strictly charged the disciples to tell no one that he was the Christ.

The last sentence of the passage has always been interpreted as Jesus wanting to keep his Messiahship a secret, or at least spare the disciples some trouble, but these understandings make no sense in the light of so many other factors that counter this thinking. Understanding that the title Christ is the Greek term for Messiah, what DOES make sense is that Jesus did not want them to think this nor to promote the identification any more than was existing already.

Another way of looking at their mindset is to see that they expected the Messiah to DO great and significant things, to operate with power and authority, to set things right according to their understanding, but not to PROCLAIM great things about God. What they were NOT expecting was for the Messiah to bring them significant NEW truth, or corrective truth. They didn't need that! Certainly not the mind-blowing, paradigm-shattering, blasphemous truth that Jesus proclaimed. No! Anything but that!

The disciples were for the most part low-class ignorant fishermen who were attracted to Jesus and began to follow him. They soon became enamored with him, and why not? He was charismatic, yet secure, unafraid, mature, gracious, in control, and he made them feel loved. He was warm and gentle with them and never made them feel guilty. They were entranced by his loving, non-judgmental spirit, and he did miracles. What's not to like? But they were slow to associate him with being the Messiah, and even after calming the storm and saving their boat from being swamped, they said, "Who then is this, that even the wind and sea obey him?" And Jesus himself was not comfortable with the Messiah identification. He came with a much bigger agenda than the Jewish concept of the Messiah would portray, an agenda to replace their paradigm of God. Were they open to that? No, no! Anything but that!

When the disciples did confess that Jesus was the Messiah, this was just an understanding that he was a temporary representative from God. The paradigm of Judaism defined God in terms of power and control, a transcendent-to-human being whose will must be honored, or else! God couldn't be just a gracious man of humility. He couldn't be a friend who fished naked at night with them, and urinated over the side of the boat. He couldn't be a person who had friends like Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. He couldn't be a person that would hang out with prostitutes and publicans. He couldn't be a man that didn't rail against the sins of the flesh, or even rail against the oppression of the Romans. He couldn't be a person that would stay out of the limelight.

He couldn't be a mere human that would get his feet dirty with the dust contaminated with spittle and bird droppings. He couldn't be a person that had no relish for consolidating political power and made no moves to install himself as a religious or political leader. He couldn't be a person who healed sinners and then told them not to tell anyone. He couldn't be a person who was THAT far out of sync with their religion, its customs, forms and leadership. He couldn't be a person who would rather serve than be served, rather wash their feet than have them wash his. Doctrinal thinking is all but if not unanimous that he did this just to set an example, and it is rarely if ever considered that this is just the way he always IS.

And finally, he just couldn't be a person who would allow himself to be arrested, mocked and humiliated, tortured, and then hanged on a cross until dead amidst traitors, insurrectionists, and rabble rousing rebels. NO! NO! NO! ANYTHING BUT THAT!!!

Oh, their hearts were moved mightily. But not their minds; not their paradigm of God. That was the ultimate sacred thing, you see, their paradigm, and not even God himself could induce a major change in their thinking and belief. And so it stands today after 2000 years. Christendom is still focused on the TRADITIONAL posited transcendence of the Creator, the God of power and control, and our own inferiority and our own less-than-sterling behavior, still focused on and venerating into idolatry ancient writings with seriously flawed concepts instead of the words of Jesus and his claim to be the paradigm, the truth, the light for understanding and the way to life without death. At this time still, the greatest most amazing thing in our world is the perverse propensity for the human mind to cling to irrational, illogical, unreasonable, unworthy beliefs; beliefs demeaning to both God and ourselves.

Outside of what John and Thomas wrote, there is no evidence that any of the balance of the disciples ever chose to believe the best about God. Outside of what John and Thomas wrote, there is no evidence that any of the other disciples ever chose to believe the best about themselves, about how the Creator is, was, and always will be totally and only--psychologically and spiritually--human, a loving, sharing being of our own nature who has extended equality to us as his children; and how the cosmic system will never be completely healed and perfectly functional unless the humans on earth choose to believe the best and take their place as equal citizens of the universe.

...many people who have a vague childish affection for a half-remembered Jesus, have never used their adult critical faculties on the matter at all. They hardly seem to see the paramount importance of His claim to be God. Phillips, J. B., Your God is too Small, MacMillan Publishing Co., New York, NY 10022, p. 82.

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