Don’t be taken aback by my proclamation. I’m not about to jump into the rivers and have twenty more baptisms. I won’t be emulating Billy Graham or any popular evangelist. No, when I say I’m a born-again Christian, it means that I’m looking at this faith from a brand-new perspective.
Like many white Midwesterns, I grew up in a Christian environment. My baptism and confirmation ceremonies happened at the same Lutheran church. And, like many other white Midwestern millennials, I grew apart from that tradition. The ocean of spirituality at my disposal felt far greater than what I had built a foundation upon.
So often, I’ve felt like popular Christianity lacks the potency it could have in an ever-evolving, chaotic world. The loudest voices, the stereotypes we perpetuate, really damage the original biblical messages. We associate a Christian person with a nondenominational megachurch, listening to Joel Osteen and pushing little Bibles into your hands.
I’m a born-again Christian, but in a completely different context. Instead, I’m a born-again Christian because the lessons I learned in Sunday school don’t encompass the way Jesus likely intended His words. And this new context has the gravity and potential for true transformation, of ourselves and of how we see the world.
once lost, now a born-again Christian.
It all started with a required reading for my chaplaincy course. Global Spiritual Traditions, but with a focus on the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. Without much other choice, I picked up the book The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault.
Let me tell you, this book is the main reason for my epiphany. Until this point, I have had my journaling Bible sitting on a desk shelf. The dust gathering speaks for itself. My relationship with Christianity has ebbed and flowed ever since high school. Back then, I wasn’t in a mental place to receive any kind of religion, let alone stay faithful.
As I grew increasingly liberal, activism and social justice becoming greater passions, I had major issues with the church. The “kum-bah-yah” nondenominational Christian clubs on my college campus reeked of ignorance and contradiction in my eyes. You say you love everyone, and yet your actions and political views reflect the exact opposite? How am I supposed to believe anything you preach?
I even remember, back in my younger years, that my hometown church mentioned politics for all the wrong reasons. Since the pastor’s views completely wrote off my own, I saw no place for myself within that strict, patriarchal structure. I’ll take my things and find a faith myself.
Which is exactly what I’ve been doing ever since. I kept the Christianity in the background whilst diving into every other religion and spiritual view, always fascinated and in awe of the many beautiful beliefs and rituals humankind carries. Eastern religions like Buddhism especially grew on me, allowing for internal, independent growth toward a stillness I never knew was possible.
let’s get the story straight.
Now back to the scheduled programming. The Wisdom Jesus, in the short time since I picked up this book, has brought me back to a faith I thought I had dragged along for nostalgia.
Prior to then, I had definitely been exploring beyond the limited education I received in church, and my mind has already opened up more to new perspectives on Christianity. Essentially, I’ve learned that popular rhetoric surrounding Christianity remains short-sighted. If Jesus were still in the tomb, He’d be rolling.
Whether you’re a born-again Christian or not, you likely know Jesus as a savior to many, a reason for mass evangelism and destruction, and a constantly white-washed and misunderstood figure. We don’t place enough attention on Jesus the teacher. And boy, did He have some wisdom to share.
If you read the Bible literally, you’re already lost. You’re missing out on the main ideas and opportunities for spiritual development. It’s like reading poetry and literally interpreting that Dickinson named a random bird outside Hope.
Jesus is among the many great spiritual leaders, the reasons entire world religions have formed, who sees no distinction between worldly and spiritual. Our own body and His body. One person and their neighbors. What I’m about to dispel will likely sound more Eastern than you expect, but it’s the core of why I’m a born-again Christian.
Our wisdom teacher Jesus Christ.
Jesus isn’t a priest or a prophet: He’s a wisdom teacher. The fact He mainly spoke in parables demonstrates that. Rather than trying to mimic His actions and repeat the words He said from memory, what we should really strive for is “put on” the mind of Christ. Such a request is far greater than a couple of good deeds.
Toward the end of World War II, historians came across Nag Hammadi, a whole new library of texts never before fathomed. Within this trove of texts is further proof of Jesus’s metaphysics and wisdom, the most prominent example being the Book of Thomas. As a born-again Christian, examining the Gospels from the wisdom perspective brings a brand new meaning and purpose for Jesus beyond repentance.
Long story short, Jesus’s abilities to heal and to die and rise again stem from a higher state of consciousness. This sense of freedom and fullness is possible for all of us, for we carry the same Spirit that Jesus does. By gripping onto strict doctrine and creeds to recite, we lose the essence of Jesus that exudes inclusiveness, diversity, and radiant light. That essence is God.
If we only choose to see Jesus as a savior, a figure important to us solely because He allows us an eternal place in some magical cloud utopia, then you’re missing out. Jesus does far more than save us: He gives us life. The “Kingdom of God,” we tend to automatically assume, is Heaven, that place that isn’t Hell.
But when He said, “The Kingdom of God is within you,” that kind of entirely contradicts that belief. Instead, the Kingdom of God is, indeed, within us, available to us at any moment. All we need to do is return to the place that we came from. We can find that Kingdom through the continual outpouring of love that abandons the Ego and rises into a unitive consciousness.
discover your light.
Have I lost you yet? Well, as mentioned, my realization as a born-again Christian came from reading The Wisdom Jesus, and I plan to continue delving into the realm of Christian wisdom. Once I have an accompanying video uploaded, I will link it here.
Even if you have no interest in conversion (which, in my opinion, you sure as heck don’t have to), it’s wise to step outside the repetitive Christian conversation we’re accustomed to so that we may gain a fuller perspective on this new fellow I’m introducing you to: Jesus, the wisdom teacher.
I’ve avoided defining myself as Christian for years. I thought I was metaphorically singing REM whilst losing my religion. But God spoke to me in this book, in this new discovery and opportunity to grow closer to Him. I already believe that all genuine spiritual paths lead to the same answers, and this is reassurance.
I’m a born-again Christian, maybe you will be, too.
Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie
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