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The Much Neglected Simple Teaching of Jesus

November 30, 2017

The most neglected statement of Jesus is that Hillel’s “Golden Rule” is what “SUMS UP” the entire Law. His detractors were of course focusing directly on the Law, even atomizing it into more and more “principles”. Christianity followed suit, only dropping the more “Jewish”-associated laws, and eventually placing a great emphasis on sexual-related principles. Islam, drawing on both religions followed suit, exchanging some Hebrew laws for more Arabic-flavored ones.

All have at times aimed to keep their respective “cultures”, (if not seeking to expand them to the world), “pure”.
This will always involve believing oneself has met the “standards” of the Law, and is thus now “called” to enforce them on others, in the name of “preserving morality” if nothing else.

So, recently taking a job “Security Awareness” class, and hearing about the latest threats from ISIS, to create easy to build rail devices to derail trains, and various ways to attack Times Square, I kept thinking, “Who appointed these people the judges and executioners of the ‘infidels’?” The same thing with many conservative Christians; and though it may seem unfair to compare them, the MINDSET, and its underlying presumptions (“righteousness” of the Law, and the need to spread “God’s truth”), are the same. What’s different is the power held.

Judaism once held formidable power over its people in Bible times (even enough to influence the mighty Romans over them, to a certain extent). What we saw in the New Testament was the final death throes of its power, as it was rapidly going down, and would end as a power structure only a few decades later.
The church arose from this, but quickly followed suit, gaining tremendous world power, even over the big bad Romans, and the Western civilizations that sprang from it. But with this power comes great compromise of Biblical principle, and great corruption, as a lot of stuff has to be justified, which in turn is often attempted to be compensated by overemphasizing certain other points of “morality”, in order to maintain the “righteous” appearance.
So it too reached a peak, and it was technology (starting with the printing press) that caused it to crack and start to come down. Hence, all the complaints of loss of power, beginning with the Enlightenment, and continuing through the last century of sociopolitical developments.

Islam, being the youngest of the three religions, is simply not as far down that pattern, but still vying for power. Christians have naturally turned up the heat on them as a “false religion”, and also political enemy, but both seem to be in agreement that America is sinful and needs to be punished. When natural disasters hit here, and conservative Christians pronounce them as “curses”, you would think they should be on the same side as the Islamists who simply seek to punish us directly, themselves, as “God’s agents” (which Christians also used to do, when they had more power, and some more radical groups wish they could still do today).

But the Christians are the ones who upheld the Gospel teaching that no men are “good”, for “all have sinned”. Many had loudly leveled this at the modern “world” and liberal segments of the Church, which had begun arguing for the “goodness“ of man, especially in the face of the teaching of Hell.

But the problem was, when it came to applying that to themselves (and those under their sphere of control, which included the whole “nation” or “culture” of past times), they essentially overrode it with concepts like “regeneration”, “providence” and “exceptionality”. They now could act like every other greedy or warring group of people while in the very breath of condemning them for it, because it’s “different” when they do it. They were the “called”, and “chosen”, and “sanctified”. But then that’s what the religions before them said.

The difference they claim is that they follow Jesus, the Savior. But He taught that the Law was fulfilled by “doing unto others as you would have them do unto you”. By going back to the points of the Law, they could actually engineer it so that killing, stealing, and even raping, could sometimes be justified, even while “normally” condemned in the Commandments, as they preached them to others.
Going along with this, Christians were also instructed “If it be possible, as much as lies in you, live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18. When it comes to this chapter, many focus more on the first two verses, and then believe living peaceably is not possible as they see “the world” encroaching on them. But they don;t see the many ways they actually provoke the world, including under the premise of trying to control it).

They’ve gone from excoriating modern liberal culture for turning from the overly sensitive propriety of the past (where even the word “pregnant” was too ‘dirty’ for TV), to now trying to be John Wayne and mocking them as “snowflakes” and “whiners” who need to “grow a pair” instead of running to their “safe spaces”. They themselves largely follow this current president, who embodies everything they used to scold society for, from vulgarity to infidelity. Is being “tough and insensitive” ungodly, or is it now the new “godly”? Make up your minds!
The standard always changes, when focusing on point-by-point morality. (Which is basically opposite of what Christians have always said; that turning away from black and white rules “relativizes” morality! They’ve long preached against the “relativism” or “situational ethics” of people saying “what we’re doing is OK as long as we’re not hurting anyone else”, but this is actually closer to the intent of the Golden Rule).

Meanwhile, what they continue to step up their energies against is leftism, gays, in addition to Islam, of course. The Gospel that starts with the sinfulness of all men (and therefore no room for them to “cast the speck out of someone else’s eye”) is left out, as it’s presumed that some have “repented” into a virtual goodness, and so it’s them against all the bad,[unrepentant] “sinners”.

Jesus had showed people what that Law really required, making it obvious it was really futile to seek justification through it, and leaving people to walk away thwarted, but likely to pretend it never happened, and just go back to where they were and keep plugging on as much as they could. The people had taken the “letter” and focused on certain aspects of it, even adding to them, to make sure the basic commandment wasn’t violated; while omitting “the weightier matters”.
I keep thinking how the Islamists need to hear the Gospel message which begins with the fact that “none are good”, but they’ve already heard overall Christian messages, and never got from them this sense. Instead, what they heard was basic agreement on moralism, but the difference was which religion, and associated culture was to bear the rule in enforcing it. So the Islamists maintain that it’s theirs, and the Christians insist it is theirs. They talk right past each other, and then the only thing left to do is to fight.

Both groups seem to believe that “sinners” have forfeited their right to live freely (if, at all). But to live is our natural instinct, and so people have the right to at least resist being under the control of those who show themselves to be a threat to living. They don’t get the whole “chosen ruler” concept, and see no difference between all the different people and groups claiming it. Anyone and everyone can and is saying that. They can’t all be true. God or conscience can’t have “showed” anyone that all of them are right. But they can all possibly be wrong, though!

(PS, in the class, someone asked why the Las Vegas shooter wasn’t considered a “terrorist” like the Islamists, which is a big point liberals are making to show the categories are racist, and we were told “terrorism” is defined as having a religious or political motivation, while they still don’t know what exactly the Vegas shooter’s purpose was. That’s why people like him get assumed to be simply “mentally ill”. If they find that the shooter was some Christian or other conservative trying to punish “Sin City”, would then then upgrade him to “terrorist” status? Possibly, as Timothy McVeigh was considered a terrorist).

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