Jesus said to follow him, not to worship him
This is the 2nd of three posts about the assertions of metaphysical Christianity: We are born in bondedness, not sin; Jesus said to follow him, not to worship him; We are saved by transformation, not by confession.
Eric Butterworth and many other notable writers have reflected on how the movement started by Jesus quickly became a monument to Jesus (clip 162). In Unity we often say that we follow the teachings of Jesus, not the teachings about Jesus. In other words we have put Jesus on a pedestal in a way that makes his teachings and journey no longer available to human beings.
Metaphysical Christianity and Unity, as its most recent expression, teaches practical Christianity. That is to say we practice what we preach, or more accurately, we practice what Jesus preached. And what he preached was that we should follow him.
The biblical support for following Jesus and his words are rich and deep. We are all familiar with Jesus’ statement that those who love him will do as he does and that we shall do not only what he does but more, greater things. We don’t need any more elaboration about what are beyond doubt this great instruction by Jesus.
Rather, I wish to support the claim that we are to follow Jesus by pointing out one very obvious message in the Gospels that is all too often overlooked. That message is embedded in the four Gospel accounts of the last supper, particularly in how the account of John differs from the accounts of Matthew, Mark and Luke.
What happened at the last supper is the central ritual in all Christian traditions. Three of the four Gospels say Jesus said “take, eat, this is my body.” What that means may be interpreted many ways; it may be an actual sacrifice or it may be, in Jesus’ words “in rememberance of me.”
It is nearly impossible to overstate the importance of these words to the spiritual life of all Christians. No matter what our belief system may be, it must accommodate these words of Jesus in some meaningful way in order to claim that our beliefs are Christian. For those in Unity, know that Unity published an excellent article in January 1925 about these words of Jesus and how we might appropriate them.
However the fourth Gospel, that of John, has an entirely different story about what happened at the last supper. Two things happened that are indisputably central to what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, according to John. First, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples. Second, he said that we should do as he had done.
I am not going to elaborate on what it means to wash the feet of one's fellow human beings. My personal sense is that the teachings of Martin Buber about "I and Thou" and the teachings of the Arbinger Institute, about seeing others as people instead of seeing others as objects, are as close we we will get today in a postmodern society. How you wash the feet of others is between you and God.
But I will stress that Jesus’ instruction that we should do as he has done is as central to the Christian faith as is the instruction of “take, eat, this is my body”. We cannot really understand the Christian path until we look at these two seemingly different commands of Jesus at the last supper. What we will find is that, spiritually, they are the same. That is the claim of metaphysical Christianity.