In a recent internet discussion, someone was blasting “Christianity” and wishing for Christians to deconvert. She mentioned, in her rant, a lot of ugly things “Christianity” does in her view. I answered that I dislike those things too. But Christianity is Christ-ianity, being like Christ and following him. The things she mention is not Christ-ian, as Jesus will never recommend them. (It is, methinks, shocking how un-Christian some church people are.)
She then answered, among other things, that she agrees with me about Jesus. But I could be Christ-like enough by just following the golden rule. If I don’t proclaim the sexist and otherwise ugly things some Christians are (in her opinion) known for, I could as well drop the label Christian and just be good, like Jesus was good.
Here was my answer:
Love God with your whole heart and soul and mind and all your power; and others as yourself.
You throw out the first half (love God…) of what Jesus say is most important. That is your choice, and I won’t comment on it. But don’t think we completely agree on the following Christ, if you throw out half of what Jesus said is most important.
Even the golden rule, while indeed Christ-like, is inadequately so: Except for missing half (love God) of the greatest commandment, the golden rule concerns only behavior – outward, and Jesus’s great commandment concerned that even your inward attitudes should put others as high as yourself.
Another thing is that a large part of what was special about Jesus was the power that raised him from the death – the power that can empower us to turn our lives around, and actually love God and others a lot more like he told us to.
Another thing about following Jesus is that he willingly died when he could have prevented it, because it was a
necessary part of his message. If you reject the thing that cost Jesus the most, that he regarded as so important that he’d pay this huge price of crucifixion, you are hardly Jesus-like.
Jesus came with power and concerned himself with a plan, out of love. If you take half of the love message but reject his power and his plan, you are not being Jesus-like.
If I followed Jesus only because he was a good guy and I want to be a good girl, I could have accepted your proposal: I could drop Jesus and keep goodness. But I believe he is more than just a good guy, but God who came for a very powerful purpose meant to renew the whole creation and make everything good in his power, eventually. That was so important he’d be willing to die a painful death for it. I don’t just want to be another messy person trying to be good: I want to tap into, and work along with, the power, love and wisdom that will make this rather messy life of mine good, and all creation good again.
Question to my readers: What else can you say of Jesus versus mere goodness?