This is the realm of Jesus, the Son, who defines himself as the emotional connection between humanity and God. This key is not just about how we feel but specifically about how we feel or connect with others in relationships. Jesus himself seen as a union of the divine and human is the ultimate symbol for the connection of people through the relationships that they care about. Jesus is unique in that he defined this emotional aspect of life in terms of our relationships that connect people.
Connection, Relationships, and Priorities
Jesus describes himself in terms of his relationships. In the Greek, however, these relationships are connected to emotions. He usually called himself “the son of the man.” On a few occasions, he called himself, “the son of the God.” The relationship between a father and son is defined by an emotion, agapao, translated as "love" in English, but meaning more like "caring." It is both a feeling and responsibility, a duty. However, Jesus also used these terms to describe all of us as well. Though he was unique in his awareness of his relationships, he saw us all as shading in that relationship.
Relationships are closely connected with emotions. Jesus singles out the emotions of caring, agapao,, and hatred, miseo. Christ’s teachings about the superiority of love to hate are sometimes taken as the hallmark of his philosophy, but this is dangerous ground. However, in Greek both of these terms are used as relative comparisons more than simply emotions or feelings. For Jesus, these emotions are all about getting the priority right. The love of family and certainly the love of society must take a back seat to love of God, but the real test is the care that we show toward people with who we have no obvious connection.
Jesus was well ahead of his time in recognizing that our connections with other people define a critical aspect of what is real. These connections are just as real as our physical bodies and our thoughts and idea. These relationships are, however, separate from both, defining another level of existence.
Jesus taught that family relationships grew out of the body but that those relationships were separate from the body. These relationships are how we perpetuate the body from generation to generation.
Relationships also grow out of the mind. In the Greek, the term Jesus uses is phileo. This word is also translated as "love" in the Bible, but it has a different meaning. It is the sense of "preference" or "liking." It is not a responsibility but an affinity and a choice. This is the realm of joy, chara, the pleasure of someone's or something's presence. People can feel joy at an idea or a message (logos) as well as from people.
However, Jesus was much more critical of social relationships, especially about the priorities people placed on their place in society. This idea of "social position," which is based upon appearances is the realm of negative emotions, most specifically what Jesus calls "worry," merimanao in Greek. However, Jesus only uses this word six times. He generally expresses the idea of avoiding worry as "letting go," the very common word aphiemi, which is often translated as "forgive" but also means letting this drop without caring where they fall.
To be precise, caring or connection to strangers is what makes Christ’s philosophy unique. Each of us our defined by the unique personal relationship in our lives, but Christ was more interested in the a priori relationship we have with people who we don’t know and have no obvious connection with other than our shared humanity.
Christ did not teach that society should take care of people. For Christ, society was the lowest form of our human relationships because it was the least personal. “Social Christian” often confuse Christ’s message about this in a very serious way. Christ had nothing good to say about human institutions such as the courts or good. Those institutions and their relationships were artificial products of the mental world. They represent coerced relationships where we do not have the choice the separates the useful from the worthless. Social concerns are intellection. The emotional connection involved is more an attachment to our own ideas than to real people..
Christ taught that the highest form of relationships was our personal connections, individual to individual. The highest relationships were those where our caring for others leads to personal sacrifice and loss.
Symbolized by the Family, Flesh, and Blood, the Earth,
The family is the most common symbol Christ uses for relationships. He defines himself as joining of the family of man and the family of God. In a sense, he represents a marriage and marriage between a man and a woman is used a positive symbol for relationships. He is very specific about the union of two opposite sexes because it is that union of opposites that is productive. Remember, the term translated as “evil” in the Gospels is poneros, which means worthless or useless. Christ judged relationships by how productive they were and marriage between a man and a woman was the ultimate example of productivity.
For Christ, sex and marriage did not belong to the realm of the physical needs but to the realm of relationships. Sex was part of a relationships and a creative force in creating new family relationships. He describes three forms of “eunuchs,” that is, those that were incapable of productive sex. There are eunuchs created by birth, that is, physical eunuchs, who were physically incapable of a relationship which can also mean those too consumed with the physical world of bodies to have real relationships. There were also eunuchs created by society, social eunuchs, who were physically castrated by society or so consumed with social relationships they lose sight of personal ones. Finally, there were spiritual eunuchs, those who were incapable of personal relationships with other people because of their relationship with God. These last type of eunuchs are the only potentially productive ones since, with God, all things are possible.
We use “flesh and blood” as a euphemism for our families. Christ used flesh and blood as symbols of relationships not the physical body. Both were symbols especially of sacrifice for others. Christ specifically extends our family to include strangers and our relationship with God. Our relationship with everyone, including God, must be a personal one. We can sacrifice for our relationship with God, but our sacrifice does not help God. Sacrifice can only help other people. We can make sacrifices for the sake of God, but those sacrifice are only productive if they help others.
The heart as the seat of emotions is a very common symbol that Christ uses for relationships. It is the seat of the “higher” emotions of courage, love, and devotion. It is opposed to the belly that symbolizes physical needs and the heads as the symbol for the mental world.
The world of relationships is symbolized by the element of the earth, meaning both the dirt and the planet. The earth is the nurturing element that gives rise to new life. It is the environment of relationships that makes life possible. Many different terms are translated as “the world” in the New Testament, but the term used to mean “the earth” is ge, which comes from the name of the earth goddess. The term kosmos is also used to describe the world order or what we might call today, the environment. The least positive aspect of the earth is described by the term, aion, which means “the age” or “the generation” and which Christ usually uses to describe the problems with society.
Christ uses himself and the prophets who were killed in the Old Testament to personify the world of relationships.
A Part of the Cycle of Spirit, Mind, and Body
Christ’s wants use to consider relationships as a more permanent part of our lives. He taught specifically against the idea of “serial marriage.” Marriage was a permanent institution, not a temporary one, and was a symbol for all relationships. With relationships, the problems arise when we think of relationships as temporary and impersonal.
Christ specifically uses behavior to gain “social rewards” as a negative example of relationships. Christ portrays the tastes and views of society as fickle. Behavior that seeks social conformity or seeks to pressure people into social norms is constantly condemned by Christ. Society is not the source of the common good. Good people can create a better society, but a good society does not create good people. Relationships are a personal matter.