Our previous post, The Great Leveling Part 1 explored the Greta Thunberg and Wet’suwet’en stories and linked them to the situation in the 1st century regarding Jesus of Nazareth. Due to a technical issue in alerting subscribers to the Back to Eden Group blog, you may not have had a chance to read it. If not, you can read it here now.
In Part 2 we will now explore the worldwide crisis surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic as an extreme example of a great leveling. While one could argue that our previous examples may or may not produce societal restructuring, there is no doubt about this one. COVID-19 is changing the world as we know it, perhaps permanently.
It is hard to believe that in just a few short weeks and months, our world has changed. Large gatherings of all kinds have been canceled or banned. Professional sports, entertainment and major events postponed or rescheduled. States of emergency declared at the national, provincial/state and city levels. Universities, schools, parks and public places closed. A massive number of people are now working from home and telecommuting by connecting to work through technology. Entertainers, musicians and preachers reaching their audiences through tools like Facebook Live and other broadcast mediums. Entire businesses are shutting down. All of this has occurred at a breathless pace in weeks. This is a true great leveling. Not one stone left upon another.
In Part 1 we mentioned two encounters in Jesus life that bear closer examination. At Back to Eden Group our core foundation is built around the statements made by Jesus in these exchanges with his followers or truth seekers. They lay waste to the entire premise of hierarchical and temple based religion. In our view, Eden was a place where neither existed.
Shortly after spending time in the vicinity of the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus disciples uttered “Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!” Jesus replied “Do you see all these great buildings? Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.” (Mar 13:1,2)
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:21,23,24)
A look back at human history will reveal that men and women have almost always attempted to relate to God, their Gods or concept of the divine through temples and priests. The empires of Egypt, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome were filled with temples and priests. The same was true in eastern cultures like China and Japan and Central and South America with the Aztecs and Inca. Even indigenous cultures in North America and Africa, where great temples were mostly absent, still had medicine men and shaman priests. Over the span of human history, mankind has been obsessed with the spiritual specialist making connection with the deity, most often in a building where the deity was presumed to dwell.
Enter Jesus of Nazareth. The one and only great leveling that really matters. All the rest, including COVID-19 are but shadows of the real thing. Let’s reinterpret the life of Jesus from this perspective and reflect on the two encounters while doing so.
In Jesus, the ultimate Deity, the Creator of the universe made an emphatic statement. You don’t need a temple, spiritual specialist, religious hierarchy or special location to connect with me. You only need to come to me by opening your spirit and being fully truthful. That’s it! To demonstrate this, everything you know will be destroyed, including your temple and way of life. When this happens, remember that I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. Not human structures, leaders or philosophies. This was truly earth shattering at every level for those who heard it then and can be so now if we open our spirits and listen.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t long after the 1st century destruction of the temple in Jerusalem and the ensuing famine and scattering of Jesus followers throughout the earth that men and women began rebuilding religious hierarchy and temples. The great leveling at that time was eventually forgotten although that wasn’t initially the case. In the early days of The Way (initial name for the Jesus follower movement) scores of believers were arrested, tortured, burned as torches and used for sport within the Roman Empire. This was primarily because they refused to bow to Caesar as Lord or follow the ways and customs of the empire that surrounded them. However, this gradually changed and was made official with the Roman Emperor Constantine adopting Christianity as the religion of the empire in the 4th century. This confirmed the temple had once again been erected. This time in “Christian” form. While the religion that grew from that became the modern day Catholic and Protestant religions now commonplace all over the world, it was never Jesus intent. He came to destroy the very thing that has been built in his name.
Interestingly, the 21st century great leveling due to COVID-19 has produced great innovation in religion and the spiritual gatherings associated with it. Groups that once derided or dismissed those who didn’t enter their buildings (temples) on a regular basis have now been forced to conduct their meetings without those structures. Being in the physical presence of spiritual specialists (pastors, priests and prophets) doesn’t seem so important anymore. Theologies are changing before our eyes. What was once considered unorthodox, error or sinful is now normal and acceptable.
Sometime in the future our lives may return to a greater sense of normal. The temptation to return to hierarchical, temple based, spiritual specialist driven religion will once again return. May some of us learn the lesson that doing so would be a return to error from the truth that God can be worshiped “neither in this mountain or that mountain nor in Jerusalem”. Go back to Eden where there is no mediator and be face to face with God. Hear what the spirit is saying in this time in our generation.
Back to Eden Group