Why did Jesus come here in the first place? If we look at how He lived and what He said, we might just figure that out.
If you read the New Testament, you won't find stories of Jesus sitting around talking about being born in a barn after a donkey ride through the desert. He didn't fill all His days with thoughts of His untimely demise and resurrection. The Bible tells us Jesus spent most of His waking hours on Earth performing acts of kindness and generosity. He showed us and told us how to care for one other through selfless service, in a manner that was 100 percent devoid of ego, hate, greed, politics or control.
We humans decided to focus on Jesus' birth, sin-forgiving murder and resurrection, making them High Holy Days in the Christian calendar. (Judging what He chose to focus on, these events probably wouldn't crack the top of His earth top 10 list, but I digress.) We are the ones who try to out Jesus one another, acting like we're the authorities who deserve to lord over others. (Jesus, by the way, never chose to "lord" over anyone, we came up with that idea all on our own). If Jesus had wanted us to spend our energy battling over issues like birth control or gay marriage, don't you think He would have taught us how to exact our wills on others in at least one of His sermons? Ah, but the Son of God had bigger fish to fry to feed the needy in His midst. He had to pick and choose His battles because He, like us, had a limited time here on Earth.
If you have doubts about how Jesus prioritized things, read the accounts of what Jesus said and did in the New Testament. The answers become pretty darn clear. Jesus was into being of service to others. He was the Prince of Peace, the Healer of the sick, the Feeder of the hungry. He wasn't an egomaniac. Instead, He was selfless, and the ultimate Includer. He didn't hate, not even His enemies. He prayed for those guys, and told us to do the same! He helped lepers, for goodness sakes! And when His teachings weren't welcomed, He told His disciples to brush the dust off of their sandals and move to the next village.
Earth Jesus was also a big proponent of forgiveness. Contrary to my Church's teaching, I don't believe that I came into the world a sinner or that it would be very important even if I did. What kind of God would hold me accountable for someone else's mistakes? I think it's convenient for organized religions to use the Bible to hyper-focus on sin. We were born into Original Sin, so we need the Church. We sin some more (it seems everyone "sins", by the way), so we need the Church even more to make proper amends. And it is wildly important for us to realize that Jesus died for our sins so that we wouldn't wind up in Hell for all of eternity. We must be saved and constantly ask forgiveness and jump through some other hoops along the way or we will end up in hell anyway. But alas, I think Jesus showed us an easier way to go about it: Be more like Him, and you'll be happier and joy-filled! Joyous people, on average, sin less! Hallelujah!
Jesus leads us by example. He healed the sick. Yet in our nation, many self-described Christians among us don't want others to have access to affordable health care. Jesus said "blessed are the peacemakers", yet our political leaders refuse to compromise and their arrogance has entered our country into war. Jesus said "blessed are the meek" and the government cuts funding to help the neediest among us. Jesus fed the hungry, and millions of American citizens go to bed hungry each and every night.
With the words and actions of Jesus staring us right in our Christian faces, how can we ignore them? I guess it's easier to distract ourselves with contraception and gay marriage than deal with the things Jesus specifically called us to do. Jesus told us to love one another. To serve each other. To be kind. Jesus wanted us to pray for our enemies and for those who persecute us, not to be the enemies or the persecutors.
We have political leaders who cloak themselves in their "Christianity" but are so self and party absorbed they'd rather watch our nation be destroyed than compromise for the good of it. We have "God fearing" media personalities and preachers who spew hatred with the soul purpose of riling up the masses to hate like they do. And we have citizens across America who would rather harm each other than consider the difference between what Jesus has called us to do and what makes them feel strong and self important.
What was Jesus doing here on Earth? Well, my guess is He was trying to show us how to live. The whole "free will" part means it's up to us whether or not we choose to listen.
Sarah O'Leary is an author, scholar, licensed minister, Midlife®, and the founder of Spiritual Inclusionism. She is an accomplished marketing expert, humorist, and addresses conferences of all shapes and sizes around the globe. She can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.