The average church would have us believe that what we primarily need to know is how to treat and react to God. The church exists as our instructors in how to please God. The emphasis in their doctrine always addresses what God wants us to do in direct relation to Him.
The church continues to ignore the fact that Jesus came along a couple of millennia ago to dispel the idea that we relate to God through our efforts in His direction. Instead Jesus told us that we can only relate to God as we relate to our fellowmen, even our enemies. Neale Donald Walsch, the author of Conversations with God, has suggested that we can never know God until we see Him in the face of our enemies. That was the essence of Jesus’ work and message. Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. As much as you have done it unto one of the least of these, you have done it unto me.
Even in the Old Testament under that system of laws and obedience, God inspired Micah to reveal that He really didn’t care about sacrifices and rituals but required mercy, justice, and humility of men. None of these characteristics have any relevance in relationship to God but rather in our dealings with one another.
The spirit of altruism which was so evident in Jesus’ ministry is too often dismissed as unrealistic or at least very much secondary to His calls to obedience and threats of punishment. The mission of Christianity is generally seen as preparing one for the hereafter, not transforming the present. Talk of possible societal transformation is generally viewed by the church as utopian nonsense without the slightest chance of realization. Thus we sustain a malaise of resignation and pessimism about our future on earth and focus exclusively on the elements of Jesus’ message which don’t even apply to us today, namely judgment. The propensity to be a judge and opponent of others outside our community or fellowship is thereby engrained in our psyche.
Now is the time to embrace the newness of Jesus and the call to break down the wall of separation and thereby unite all mankind in the one body (community) which Jesus proclaimed and Paul reiterated. Let’s quit trying to convert the world by telling them how to treat God and instead show them how to treat one another by demonstrating that ourselves.