02 May 2016

The Teachings of Christ

This is an analysis I did two years ago as I was seeking a new path in my life. I'm posting this now, because every so often it comes up in conversation, and I want this to be more easily accessible.

The teachings of Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is the one Christians look to for the basis of their faith. We've all seen the WWJD jewelry to remind us to behave like Jesus, or for Mormons, the CTR jewelry, reminding us to Choose the Right like Jesus would want us to. The whole of western religion is built upon this deified man who lived two thousand years ago, yet there are only three small books in scripture that deal exclusively with the life of Jesus-- and much of that on deifying him. The life of this man has influenced countless lives, yet most boil it down to being "good" and loving each other. Is this all there is to it, or is there something more? Since I couldn't think of anything beyond that, I decided to go through the new testament and see what I could find from what Jesus taught. Here are my findings:

These are good things I believe can we learn from Jesus:

Love yourself.
  • Education is important (Matthew 4:4)
  • Don't do stupid things (self-harm), even if you believe you are invincible. (Matthew 4:5-7, Luke 4:9-12)
  • Be true to yourself. Don't sell your convictions for money, treasure, or power. (Matthew 4: 8-10, Luke 4:6-8)
  • Have empathy, kindness, and seek to be better. (Matthew 5:3-11)
  • Don't hide the good that is in you. It brings variety and joy to the lives of those around you. (Matthew 5:13-16; Matthew 25:14-28)
  • Be questioning. Search for answers. (Matthew 7:7-8)
  • Don't dwell in the past. (Matthew 8:18-22)
  • Be teachable. (Matthew 13:1-9; Mark 4:2-8; Luke 8:4-8)
Love others
  • Don't be angry with people. If you have a disagreement, make up quickly before there are bad consequences. (Matthew 5:21-26)
  • Don't judge others. (Matthew 7:1-6; Luke 6:37)
  • Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Matthew 7:9-12)
  • Relationships with other humans can be stronger than family ties. (Matthew 12:46-50; Mark 3:33-34)
  • Watch what you say! Only good things should come out of your mouth. (Matthew 15:11, Mark 7:15)
  •  Forgive always. (Matthew 18:21-22) [It is good for the peace of your being to not hold grudges. This does not mean you should let people abuse you or take advantage of you. It is possible to forgive without allowing situations to repeat.] 
  • Divorce is bad. (Matthew 19:1-12, Mark 10:1-12) [Ok, so in general, divorce is certainly not ideal, but there are many reasons it can be right for a couple. I think the point here is not to take your marriage covenants lightly.]
  • Don't dwell on what others get. Life is not fair. (Matthew 20:1-16)
  • Importance is gained by what you give others. Serve others. (Matthew 20:24-28)
  • Take care of the people around you. (Matthew 25:31-45) [This should not mean to give to others to the point of your own impoverishment.]
Hate hypocrisy.
  • Don't brag about being good. (Matthew 6:1-18)
  • Don't believe flatterers. Observe their "fruit" to know if they are good people. (Matthew 7:15-20, Luke 6:43-45)
  • Tell the truth. Do what you say you will do. (Matthew 21:28-31)
  • Only teach what you, yourself, live. (Matthew 23:1-12)
 Teachings of Jesus I cannot agree with:

  • Thoughts are as bad as actions. (Matthew 5:27-30) [Actually murdering somebody or committing adultery are way worse than just thinking about it. That said, however, it's probably a good thing to not let our thoughts/fantasies get the better of us. A stray thought isn't bad. Dwelling on certain thoughts can be bad for you psychologically, though, and might lead to the committing into action of those thoughts.]
  • Let people take advantage of you. (Matthew 5:38-42; Luke 6:34) [What? No. Not good. Being a doormat only makes you a target for people without scruples. Bad advice.]
  • Love your enemies. (Matthew 5:43-48; Luke 6:27-36) [How about, "don't hold grudges"? Loving enemies would entail double think and cognitive dissonance. No, thank you!]
  • Don't save money or dwell on its existence. In fact get rid of any material thing you have accumulated. God will take care of you. (Matthew 6:19-34; Matthew 19:16-30; Mark: 12:41-44; Luke 12:13-34) [This is just stupid. Save for a rainy day. Enjoy wealth, if you have it. Help others with your money, if you desire. If you don't have money, well sure, don't spend your strength worrying about it when you can (or can't) do something about it. Maybe this is just Jesus' way of trying to dispel worry and take a jab at rich people at the same time.]
  • Love God with your whole might, soul, and mind. Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 37-40, Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:27) [I give love to those who are worthy of my love. It is a waste of energy and heart to do otherwise. I cannot love a God who I do not know even exists, and if he does exist, does not manifest himself to me. Also, as far as loving my neighbor as myself, sorry, but that is just not feasible. It would entail all sorts of psychological intricacies I cannot begin to deal with. I can, however, accept being kind to those around me.] 
  • Be a pacifist. (Matthew 26:52) [I believe you should defend yourself and your loved ones even unto death.] 
  • Be like a child. (Mark 10:13-16) [I can understand how people interpret this to mean " be humble" and "be teachable" and "be forgiving". I believe we should always be advancing. We are constantly growing in our understanding, and that is a good thing. We should not be gullible and always believing as a child is. We learn as we develop, and that should never be discarded. It is best to be ourselves and not childish.] 
  • You can do anything if you just believe. (recurrent theme) [While having positive thoughts can be important, you can NOT do anything just by believing.]
  • The "kingdom of heaven" is worth giving up everything for. (recurrent theme) [Not for me.]