Any decent psychologist will tell you that the most powerful tool of marketing and advertising is identification power. It is why Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan earn obscene amounts of money from Nike and why mega movie stars earn such huge salaries. It exploits a fundamental human weakness. We all want to be like Mike, or Tiger, or Peyton or whomever we believe is famous and successful. We’re gullible enough to think that if we wear Mike’s shoes or use Tiger’s golf ball, or dress like Will Smith some of that success will rub off on us. The irony is this apparent weakness is also the key to ONENESS. More on that later.
These ridiculously wealthy marketers of everything from tennis shoes to cigars pale in comparison to the most exploited figure in history who has never earned a dime personally from his identity-though his exploiters have earned billions. I’m talking about Jesus Christ.
Every two-bit religion, dumb denomination, mega-church jack-legged preacher and callous cult leader all owe their infamous success to identifying with and exploitation of the divine name of Jesus Christ. They all peddle their wares promising the unaware forgiveness of sins, earthly riches, health and a cure for whatever else ails you. To paraphrase the poet Rudyard Kipling, the truth is twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools.
Though Jesus Christ made it clear that his kingdom is not of this world; and even though when asked where the kingdom of heaven is he clearly replied, “the kingdom is within you”; and even though he had at his disposal legions of angels, which at his word would have rescued him from an ignominious death; and even though he was in perfect union with God(I and the father are ONE); and even though he was poorer than poor having nowhere to lay his head; the churches of today use his name to the opposite effect intended.
The overwhelming majority of religions, churches, cults or whatever they call themselves have made a mockery of the life of Jesus. The exploitation of the identity of Jesus began the moment iconography was introduced by the Catholic church. If the church was to be successful people had to identity with Jesus. So artists began to depict Jesus to look like the people to be targeted. Instead of teaching people that they had to have the mind of Christ and renew their inner selves, the church told people hey, Jesus looks just like you. In the most twisted and sick kind of perversion of the truth the message became you can be like Jesus because he looks like you.
Had the perversions stopped there perhaps things would not have become as bad as they are now. But not only did the church exploit the person of Jesus through iconography, it attempted to identify with his divinity by claiming that it had the power to heal the sick, raise the dead and if you paid enough money it could forgive your sins and get you a primo spot in heaven. Though many attempts have been made to “reform” the Catholic church you can not reform that which has no substance from which to be reformed. You can take an ill formed piece of clay and reform it because the clay is the substance of the reformation. In the case of the Catholic church there is no clay, only vile emptiness. Here, I am not referring to the many “believers” who are part of the Catholic church. If you have renewed your spirit, been born again and if you are in unity with God the Father, it matters little what church you are affiliated with these days. However, I do believe as one grows spiritually the chances of one remaining with any of today’s organized Christian religions are slim.
The Protestant churches that sprang up after the reformation were no better. Their exploitation of the identity of Jesus Christ picked up where the Catholic church left off. Not only should you identify with Jesus because he looks like you, he is a “personal” god with the same failings as you. The Protestants replaced iconography with emotional empathy. Jesus suffered, I’m suffering. Jesus was abused, I am abused. Jesus was misunderstood, I’m misunderstood. It mattered not that the abuse, suffering and misunderstanding experienced by Jesus were all a result of his divine nature in a world separated from God, and the suffering and abuse experienced by the misguided are a result of their sinful nature. As long as the human weakness of false feelings of goodness through identification power could be exploited, that was all that mattered. Many have been led astray by this emotionalism found in so many Protestant churches. From the quaking Quakers, to the get happy Baptists to the holy rolling Pentecostals the souls of those sincerely seeking spiritual freedom have been imprisoned in darkness by those exploiting the person of Jesus Christ for earthly gain.
This identification is often taken to perverted extremes. Those misguided souls who hope to be like Christ turn to self mutilation because they believe Jesus Christ willingly suffered mutilation by the Romans. So they beat themselves with studded whips and have themselves nailed to a cross believing that somehow this physical identification with the suffering of Jesus Christ makes them more holy. The marketers of this kind of nonsense are trying to sell holiness.
This identification exploitation is certainly not limited to Christian religions. The Gurus of India, and the many Shamans have all used identification power to enrich themselves and lead many astray. The desire to be like the Shaman or Guru and reach a state of enlightenment and well being makes many easy prey for the wielders of identification power. Why is it so easy?
It is easy because we as human beings are hardwired with a natural proclivity to identify with that which we perceive to be greater than ourselves. This is a spiritual longing to be connected with the Infinite Whole, with the image of God. But as you know, all that glitters is not gold. Likewise all religions that identify themselves with Jesus Christ are not genuine. In fact most are not. The majority of Christian religions employ a subtle trick to deceive their followers. The trick involves exploiting the natural tendency toward self-preservation. In order to truly identify with Jesus Christ and obtain the mind of Christ, one has to sacrifice his or her identity separate from the image of God. To the individual, this feels like dying. Yet it is exactly what one must do. It is what Jesus meant when He said that those who would seek to preserve their lives would lose their lives and those who are willing to give up their lives would find life eternal.
To overcome and frustrate the words of Jesus, Churches use our natural desire to live by telling us to fear this death that would, if allowed to take place, lead to spiritual and in many cases physical rebirth. The natural tendency to identify with someone or something we perceive as more powerful or successful than ourselves must become a longing for identification with that from which all existence flows: ONENESS with God mediated by LOVE. And for that,
To God Be The Glory Forever and ever,