When I was a Christian, I didn’t really understand Christ. I do now
I was raised Catholic by my parents. For as far as I can remember, the whole family would go to the church every Sunday.
Even though I found the whole ceremony a little tedious, I didn’t feel bad at all about going to the church. The environment was nice, and I just always assumed that whatever was said by the priest ought to be true.
I sincerely believed in God, Jesus Christ, and everything else, which is weird because I didn’t really understand most of the things that were being preached. Especially Jesus Christ and why he had to die for our sins.
Years passed, and I grew more and more interest in being a good Christian. This led me to leave the Catholic Church and join an evangelical neo-pentecostal church in which I spent 7 years pushing myself into being the best servant of God as I could possibly be in order to be ready for the second coming of Jesus Christ.
I’d attend services every single day, study the Bible, go to seminars, sing in the choir, play in the band, preach the Gospel, teach the Bible to kids.
After 7 years, I had read the whole Bible several times. I had listened to countless preachings and teachings by tens (maybe hundreds) of different preachers. I had meditated over the holy scriptures, fastened, prayed, exercised gratitude, forgiveness, and repentance.
But still, I didn’t understand why Jesus had to die
Worse, when people said that we should be like Jesus and live as he lived, I didn’t understand what that meant either.
Should I cure people, walk on water, change water into wine, and resurrect the dead? Should I live in poverty, wandering around preaching? And what exactly he meant with “love thy neighbor as thyself?” Was he talking about feelings or actions or both?
At some point, a series of events led me to question everything I believed in. Ultimately, I decided I couldn’t convince myself that I was a believer anymore
And so I quit my church, and Christianity, and faith
I am now agnostic. This means that I don’t believe in any faith or religion, but I don’t deny the possibility of the existence of something bigger than us. But even if that’s true, we’ll never know for sure, and I ok with not knowing.
As for the Bible and other religious scriptures, I certainly don’t take their spiritual teachings as being true. But I acknowledge that religion is way more than simply faith in the supernatural. Religion is a tool created to preserve wisdom and transfer it to new generations.
But what is wisdom?
Wisdom is any observation of any mechanism in our world. Wisdom connects cause and effect, for example, “Don’t eat that mushroom, or you’ll die.”
But wisdom doesn’t care about the “why.” It tells you that that mushroom will kill you, but it doesn’t explain why that happens. That’s where Science comes in. Science explains why things happen, and how they happen.
But science as we know it didn’t exist until recently, and people have always been curious. So in the past, when people asked, “But why this mushroom kills but that one does not?” the wise men would come up with whatever explanation they could think of: “Because this mushroom was cursed by the Devil.”
When you understand that, reading the Bible becomes a much pleasant activity to a non-believer
Because you can focus on the wisdom, ignoring the supernatural justifications.
So when you read the story of Adam and Eve, for example, and ignores all the supernatural elements, what’s the wisdom it contains?
That the origin of all the problems of humanity is that we are never happy with what we have.
Adam and Eve had the ultimate perfect life, but they were not satisfied. They needed more. So they thought that the forbidden fruit was the answer. “If I eat that fruit, I’ll be happy,” they thought.
But it wasn’t.
Humanity never stopped falling short for this original sin. It’s in our nature to be ungrateful and to think that we can only be happy if we acquire this or that.
We can’t be happy unless we get what we don’t have. But when we get it, nothing changes
That explains why so many successful artists become depressed exactly when they reach the top in their careers.
You grow up thinking that once you’re rich and famous you’re gonna be happy. Then it finally happens: you’ve got everything you’ve always wanted, but your life is not even a little bit happier. Worse, there’s no illusion to pursue anymore. There are no more wishes to fulfill. No more hope.
In the book of Ecclesiastes, King Solomon, who’s considered by many to be the wisest man who ever walked the Earth, writes: “Vanity of vanities; all is vanity.” pointing out one of the biggest illusions of humanity: that there are things that are important.
When we believe that something is important, we neglect everything else
You believe your work is important, and you neglect your health. You believe that having money is important, and you neglect your family. You believe that having knowledge is important, and you neglect fun.
But if nothing is important, what to do with life?
In the words of Solomon: “Nothing is better for a man than that he should eat and drink, and that his soul should enjoy good in his labor.” That is, eat good food, drink good drinks, and work on things you enjoy (in other words, do what you love).
But what about Jesus?
What’s so powerful about the story of Jesus that rings true to so many people? When we ignore the supernatural, what’s the wisdom behind his life and what does it say about how we should live our lives?
The story of Jesus Christ is the story of God made man to suffer what we humans suffer and ultimately die undeservedly.
Jesus was born and raised poor, was hated, humiliated, verbally and physically assaulted, he felt hungry and thirsty, he was wronged, betrayed by one of his closest friends and abandoned by all the others, even God himself.
In his last moments, Jesus had nothing left but one thing: his love for humanity.
The love Jesus had for humanity was the single thing that made everything he went through bearable and justifiable
Jesus needed to be stripped of everything that’s desirable to prove the following point: the meaning of life is the love you give.
You can be poor. You can be wronged. You can die young. You can have no friends. You can have no partner. Even if everyone turns their backs on you, life will have meaning if you have love to give.
If you love your job, you’ll stick to it even if it doesn’t pay much. If you love your partner, you will stay in the relationship. If you love your country, you will risk your life to protect it.
Love is the answer. Not the love you receive, but the love you give.
For as long as you have love to give, life will be meaningful, even if you don’t have anything else
And we don’t need to be religious to accept that.
Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.Mark 12:30-31