Were Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons, Mayans and Babylonians, African and Asian civilizations, and the endless Native peoples on all continents and isolated islands for millennia just throwaways or dress rehearsals for “us”? Is God really that ineffective, boring, and stingy?
Remember, light is not so much what you directly see as that by which you see everything else. This is why in John’s Gospel, Jesus Christ makes the almost boastful statement “I am the Light of the world” (John 8: 12). Jesus Christ is the amalgam of matter and spirit put together in one place, so we ourselves can put it together in all places, and enjoy things in their fullness.
Both Christianity and Buddhism are saying that the pattern of transformation, the pattern that connects, the life that Reality offers us is not death avoided, but always death transformed. In other words, the only trustworthy pattern of spiritual transformation is death and resurrection.
We were largely taught what to believe instead of how to believe. We had faith in Jesus, often as if he were an idol, more than sharing the expansive faith of Jesus, which is always humble and patient (Matthew 11: 25), and can be understood only by the humble and patient.
If God can use a woman with seven devils and a murderous religious zealot to be his primary witnesses, then we had best ask, What were they witnessing to? It was not just some new ideas, it was a new lifestyle, a life energy, a worldview that really believed in “liberty and justice for all.”
Nonattachment (freedom from full or final loyalties to man-made domination systems) is the best way I know of protecting people from religious zealotry or any kind of antagonistic thinking or behavior. There is nothing to be against, but just keep concentrating on the Big Thing you are for! (Think Francis of Assisi and Mother Teresa.)
Privatized salvation never accumulates into corporate change because it attracts and legitimates individualists to begin with.