"But here I want to say — clearly — that it is tragic for anyone, especially anyone affiliated with the religion named after Jesus, not to be clear about what Jesus' message actually was.

"Many people don't realize that the Christian religion — in its Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, and Pentecostal forms — is the largest, richest, and most powerful religion in the world. If the Christian religion 'misunderestimates' the message of Jesus — if it doesn't know or believe the truth about Jesus and his message — the whole world will suffer from Christian ignorance, confusion, or delusion. But if it discovers, understands, believes, and lives Jesus' message — if it becomes increasingly faithful to the reality of what Jesus taught in word and example — then everyone could benefit: Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, everyone.

"In an age of global terrorism and rising religious conflict, it's significant to note that all Muslims regard Jesus as a great prophet, that many Hindus are willing to consider Jesus as a legitimate manifestation of the divine, that many Buddhists see Jesus as one of humanity's most enlightened people, and that Jesus himself was a Jew, and (this book asserts) without understanding his Jewishness, one doesn't understand Jesus. A shared reappraisal of Jesus' message could provide a unique space or common ground for urgently needed religious dialogue — and it doesn't seem an exaggeration to say that the future of our planet may depend on such dialogue. This reappraisal of Jesus' message may be the only project capable of saving a number of religions, including Christianity, from a number of threats, from being co-opted by consumerism or nationalism to the rise of potentially violent fundamentalism in their own ranks.

"Wouldn't it be interesting if the people who started discovering and believing the hidden message of Jesus were people who aren’t even identified as Christians, and wouldn't it be tragic if people like myself, identified as Christians, were unwilling to consider the possibility that they have more to learn (and unlearn) about the message of Jesus?

"It might sound audacious of me even to suggest such a thing. But I speak from personal experience: I grew up in the church and spent many years in devout Christian contexts before I ever got more than a tiny glimpse of the secret message of Jesus. Even now I feel I only see part of it; I feel like a child standing on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon — impressed, breathless, and maybe a little dizzy, but not able to take in the full dimension of what expands before me."