My last post to directly address the Unbroken Path was about the Hierophant of the Fool´s Journey. Considering that this step refers to paying homage to our religious institutions and realizing when to let go to continue our individual and collective journey, I fell it is appropriate to touch upon my Christian heritage again and try to see where the mainstream religion may have misinterpreted a rather important point along the path.
After realizing our imperfection through the first step of the Romans Road, we come to an understanding about the ramifications of it. In Romans 6:23, Paul says that, “The wages of sin is death; the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.” Since there are two segments to this step, there are two misperceptions that I believe have caused a bit of a bump in the path.
The first segment states that, “The wages of sin is death.” If God is the giver of life, then death would be separation from Him. This is not a physical death, but a spiritual one. As I stated in the last post about the Romans Road, this separation is the state of Shame. It is the consciousness of failure. It is an unfortunate fact that so many of us begin our philosophical journey with this perception of reality. Before we can even begin to understand life, we are given this idea that we are actually caught up in the realm of death.
However, this step also includes its share of hopefulness in the second segment, “the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ.” As Jesus is quoted as saying in John 14:6, “No one comes to the Father except through me.” In the Christian tradition, this gift of eternal life is largely interpreted to mean the gift of heaven in the afterlife. However, if eternal life only regards the after life, then it is really not eternal.
After all, eternity has no beginning and no ending. It is ever present. It is in actuality, the only moment that has ever or will ever truly exist. While it has been historically understood that it was faith in the sacrifice that Jesus made on the cross which would enable us to receive this gift, I believe it is something more than a mere belief.
According to Christian tradition, Jesus lived a life of complete selflessness and faith which gave him the power to perform miracles, live peacefully, and even rise from the dead. Jesus’ call to his disciples in Matthew 5:48 was to “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Would Jesus have knowingly asked us to live up to such a standard if the first step of the Roman Road were an absolute truth?
Although Paul stated that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” Jesus had a much different vision of the capabilities of mankind. So much so that he lived among us and offered up an example of how it could be done. It has taken us quite a few centuries to figure out what Jesus was actually trying to share, and I think we may still have a ways to go. Nevertheless, many are now coming to the understanding that the message of Jesus through his life and words is the same as many other spiritual teachers of other traditions.
Eternal life, this gift from God, is in the present moment. By realizing our connection to our Creator, and living in that harmony, as Jesus evidenced, we can rise from the Shame which was our first step out of paradise. We can return again.
Steve McAllister is the author of The Rucksack Letters and How to Survive an Estralarian Mind Meld. He posts regularly at The Unbroken Path and is currently involved in starting the Common Wealth Time Bank in Sarasota, Florida. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.