AS SOMEONE WHO PARTOOK of the memorial bread and wine for 18 years, this evening has me deep in thought. I don’t regret partaking for all those years. Even as a Jehovah’s Witness, I could see the teaching of two hopes—heavenly and earthly—with only the heavenly ones partaking was not scriptural. According to the Bible, all genuine Christians are anointed and therefore “in Christ” which means that all are in the New Covenant and benefit from true forgiveness of their sins. As a Christian, it seemed only proper that I should partake of the bread and wine in recognition of Jesus’ sacrifice for my sins rather than rejecting it by passing it onto the person seated next to me. I even commemorated the memorial on my own for the first two years after being disfellowshipped, but now I don’t. Why?
I no longer believe in a transcendent God who decides what is right or wrong and watches our every action so as to judge us for our good or bad deeds. I no longer believe that actions and thoughts are intrinsically “good” or “evil”. I believe we each decide personally what we view as “right” and “wrong” and we do so by our choices. As a general rule, we avoid doing things that we feel are wrong, but if we act contrary to our personal moral code, our conscience condemns us. Others also have their standards of what they consider ethical, and if we do wrong by someone we can expect to pay the price, for example losing our relationship with them. In addition to our personal moral codes, there is also a community consensus on what is acceptable behaviour. As citizens of a country, we find these consensual standards written into law so that if we commit an act that is designated a crime we can expect to be brought to justice, but beyond personal and community standards of right and wrong I do not believe there is a higher standard in the form of God. “You reap what you sow” is baked into the very Universe by means of our personal and community standards, so there is no need for a divine lawgiver or judge.
With this in mind, I no longer consider myself to be a “sinner” according to the Bible standard of “right” and “wrong”. Sure, I make mistakes and I don’t like it when I do. Sometimes I upset people with my choices, but I’ve never committed a crime. Any “wrongs” I may have committed in the past are because I acted contrary to my own standards, or the standards of others. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses, even those of my family, view me as a “sinner”, but this is subjective based on their own interpretation of the Bible. Personally, I think I’m a good person, more so now that I’m being true to my beliefs. As such I no longer feel the need for a Messiah figure to save me. I find the idea of someone dying on my behalf because I was born “imperfect” somewhat unsatisfactory. I no longer feel the need to be rescued from death. Death of this body is natural. All physical things come to an end, the Universe included, yet the real “I Am” is eternal. The One Consciousness which is having experiences through my body will one day no longer be able to do this, but it will continue to experience life through other bodies.
So I won’t be commemorating Christ’s death this year or any other year. Perhaps his death meant something to Jesus’ Jewish followers who were trapped in a religion that demanded continual sacrifices to appease their “Jehovah” God. Perhaps it brings relief to Jehovah’s Witnesses who feel guilty for somehow being born an “enemy of God”, but for me personally, it no longer means what it used to. It’s not that I’ve disowned Jesus. Many of his teachings still resonate with me. I view him as a spiritual Master, much like Buddha and other spiritually enlightened ones. It’s more like I’ve outgrown Christianity and religion as a whole. I’ve definitely outgrown Jehovah’s Witnesses! My innate Spiritual Self may be housed within this physical body, but it can no longer be contained within a religious framework.