I like to ask the question, “What got Jesus out of bed every day?”
It is clear that his daily concern focused on this world, for a better human community, and on affirming God’s presence with people, not on the next world or on any belief in God-absent-from-people or on God withholding forgiveness from people.
Jesus was clearly concerned with helping people think differently about God and about themselves in relationship with God if ever his dream for humanity was to be realized. His dream is clear for all of us to see: how would humanity conduct itself if people were aware they gave human expression to the Breath/ Spirit/Reality of God within, among and around them? Another way of expressing this in the terminology of Jesus’ time would be: “How would people live if they could be aware that the same ‘Spirit of the Lord God’ active in Jesus is present and active in their lives?”
It was this dream that drove Jesus to challenge people to conversion, to change their thinking and their imagination about God, so that they would experience God as a gracious, compassionate Presence, accessible to everyone in everyday actions of kindness and human decency.
He clearly recognized that only with this conversion could people ever be empowered to take responsibility to establish “God’s reign” in human affairs.
That’s what got him out of bed.
We can see from his preaching and his actions that Jesus envisaged a human community characterized by:
Radical equality; radical service of others.
Freedom from dehumanizing behavior
An expansive concept of and concern for “neighbor”
Concern for justice; care for the underprivileged
Everyone empowered with a sense of dignity and the willingness to establish “God’s reign” on earth.
Belief in the Divine present in all people regardless of race, religion, culture.
No religious superstition or magic; no fear of God; no dependence on middle management to “bring” God to people.
No violent responses to problems.
It is clear, then, what it means and what is required to be a follower of Jesus.
It is clear what the task of “ecclesia” is, in its many shapes and form.
To follow the dream/teaching of Jesus is to commit oneself to and to work for the most profound changes in our religious, political, economic, social endeavors.
Our task is to give the best possible human expression to God’s presence here, within, among, all around us.