The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr (Part two)
More notes on Richard Rohr’s book The Universal Christ
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This week I want to share some more notes and reflections from Richard Rohr’s ‘The Universal Christ.’
I’m going to start with one line from chapter two jumped out at me. And this is in relation to what Christians call the ‘Gospel’, or literally, ‘good news’. Rohr says that Christianity’s core good news is this: that we all share the divine nature.
In other words, the main message of Christianity is that we are all sacred at our core, with divine DNA.
Sadly, this isn’t the message many churches have preached. Instead, countless people cringe at the mere sound of the word ‘Gospel’ or indeed Christianity. The associations are negative. Why? Because the message the church has preached is one of judgement. ‘If you don’t believe the same things as us, you’re doomed.’ Even if not said so overtly, that’s what people have heard. We think we’re offering good news, but it’s received as bad.
This ties in with a thought Rohr further explores in chapter four. He writes about original goodness. Most church people are familiar with the idea of original sin. Tragically though, the idea of original goodness is not known or understood.
Instead, we talked about a fallen humanity. We focussed on the evil of our world. We proclaimed a message that didn’t see good in humanity and creation. And so we shared a ‘gospel’ that was all about escaping this world for another (heavenly) one.
But, says Rohr, Jesus did not need to come to earth in order to make it more sacred. He lived in and amongst creation, honouring it as a sacred gift that had already been given.
Jesus came to help us recognise and recover our sense of the divine image in everything. This is the work of all true religion too.
We are all God’s children. No exclusions.
But by starting with original sin, we’ve been doing everything since from the wrong footing. We need to make a deliberate choice to focus instead on what is true, good, and beautiful. That is the starting point.
This doesn’t deny that there is much evil in our world. Nor does it deny that each of us falls short of living lives of love, goodness, kindness, and compassion. We’re all sinners in that sense. But, that’s not where we start.
To quote Rohr, ‘I have never met a truly compassionate or loving human being who did not have a foundational and even deep trust in the inherent goodness of human nature.’
And then, ‘The Christian life is simply a matter of becoming who we already are.’
This is a huge shift for many. And any ‘becoming of who we already are’ doesn’t happen by accident. God never works uninvited. But the true Christian message – and indeed the essence of any true and healthy religion – is a reminder of who we truly are. We then get to choose to make a conscious ‘yes’ to taking this journey.
And part of this journey includes dealing with what the Bible calls sin. But we do this only in the context of a positive and overarching vision. This is an inevitable stage of desiring to become who we truly are. To live out of our true self. To live from our divine nature.
Who knows, if this is the message, people might actually start to agree with Christians that this is good news!