If you believe the hype, the world will end this year.
According to top Mayan scholars, however, the end of the Long Count calendar does not actually indicate the end of time, but rather, the end of a grand cycle that ushers the beginning of a new one. “The idea is that time gets renewed, the world gets renewed—often after a period of stress,” says Anthony Aveni, a Maya expert and archaeoastronomer at Colgate University in Hamilton, New York.
Not the end of the world, but the end of the world as we know it. In other words, a clean slate. A fresh start. New rules, new perspectives, new hope.
Sounds like the perfect time for an upheaval—not in tectonic plates, but in thinking, in spirit. A bona fide revolution!
Which brings me to Jesus.
Because whether you think of the healer’s story as divine or fabricated, historical or mythical, one cannot argue that he served as anything less than a firebrand. An agitator. A revolutionary who stood up to the conditions of his time and said, “Things must change.”
Rising against a world that glorified domination, oppression, and violence to preach tolerance, inclusion, and mercy was dangerous. There could be no denying the potential risks. And possibly fatal outcome.
Such a stand took guts. Conviction. And a profound belief in the human capacity for change.
But where is that revolutionary today? Where is the rogue dissenter who defies our spiritual boundaries and confronts our beliefs? Who demands that we ask more of ourselves?
We certainly don’t find him in the celebrated Superstar on Broadway, nor amidst those who, in his name, are actively stripping women in the U.S. and abroad of their basic human rights.
In fact, what is ironic about the above examples is that the people behind them wield the icon of Jesus to affect results that stand in direct contrast to values the healer himself upheld—namely, humility, and a deep respect for women.
Perhaps such self-righteousness is the real reason our world must end. Our complacency having reached a height where we can tame and declaw even our most celebrated insurgent. Domesticating his feral provocations to the point where we truly believe Jesus might support even our hateful and destructive actions.
Is there any hope, then, for us at all?
Maybe what we need is a good old-fashioned Second Coming.
Not on a literal level, of course, but rather, one that arises in our collective imagination.
Think of it. In a time when our entire planet and its every inhabitant faces grave peril, what could be more hopeful than conjuring up someone who will arrive with the wisdom to guide us to safety?
But before embarking on this contemplation, a warning: This exercise may cause extreme spiritual discomfort.
After all, if we play true to the story, the Jesus who returns is not going to be our best friend. He will not be air-brushed for maximum attractiveness. He may not even speak our language.
In fact, he might not even be a “he” at all.
Did that last sentence rattle you?
Remember, we’re not rehashing the Broadway Jesus. This is the real deal. A being intent on presenting the utmost challenge to our complacency and assumptions. A spiritual guide poised and ready to kick us from our comfort zone and our establishments.
This is a complete re-birth. An upgrade of biblical proportions.
Sound radical? It is.
But Jesus himself was a radical. Who ardently believed in a better way.
When we look out at the world today, as humans, as children, as parents, we can see that we’re in need of new ways of thinking and a new direction. Storing up on duct tape and canned goods won’t save us. But our imagination might.
So whether you’re planning to occupy a storm shelter, or go down with the ship, take a moment to remember the brave revolt that rose against domination, oppression, and violence to vigorously defend the values of inclusion, forgiveness, non-violence, equality, and compassion. Think about how our world would be if that upheaval succeeded.
Then imagine the re-birth of our most notorious revolutionary in a new form.
And ask yourself: Will you join her?