We’ve lost sight over the past 2,000 years of just how radical the message of Jesus was. It is hard to see it now with all our doctrine and layers of thinking laid on top His messages. If we strip them away, however, we can see that Jesus’ message is likely even more radical to our modern eyes than to His culture. Honestly, if He returned or was sent for the first time today, He would be assassinated quicker than He was in the Roman period.
Let’s toss away what we think we know about the messages of Jesus and take a moment to look at just how radical His pure message is:
1) Love God; Love your neighbor (Mark 12:29-31)
Most of us have heard this very often. Jesus equates loving our neighbor with loving God. According to Him, all the Law hangs on these commands, and they are inseparable in the way He presented them. One cannot love God without loving their neighbor. Who is your neighbor? Everyone. Jesus even tells us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:42-44). He is saying we need to love everyone as ourselves. Think about that a moment. Really think about it. We can only show our love for God by loving all His people no matter the religion or ethnicity. Jesus makes no distinction.
2) Those who are not against us is on our side. (Luke 9:48-50)
Jesus makes His message all inclusive. His disciples forbid a man who isn’t following them from teaching the messages of Jesus. Jesus tells them not to forbid the man even though the man isn’t a part of the “religion.” Jesus states that those who are not against Him are with Him. In other words, those who practice #1 are a part of the Kingdom. People who help Jesus’s message of compassion for everyone is with Him regardless of their beliefs. Judging others because they believe in a different flavor of Christianity goes against this explicit principle of Jesus. As long as they are not against the message, they are on Jesus’ side.
3) Stop being indifferent
Throughout the Gospels Jesus shows us unconditional forgiveness and compassion to adulterers, the lowest classes, the sick, and others that live on the margins of society. He lived a life that teaches us not to be indifferent to those who are poor, sinners, sick, or just different. He spent time with prostitutes, tax collectors, and others. In modern terms He would spend time with prostitutes, people with AIDS, the homeless, and other marginal groups. Jesus didn’t spend His social time with the ruling classes. He only spent time with them when He was trying to break them out of their indifference and attachment to wealth. By today’s labeling Jesus would be a Leftist Socialist since He abhorred how wealth failed to help those in need.
His entire life was spent trying to shake us out of our indifference to God, love, arbitrary division, and the marginal in need. His messages have been buried under doctrine and shaped into a Sunday pill we can easily swallow. However, it takes only a moment to deeply realize just how radical Jesus really was. Love God and everyone. Do everything you can to help them as you would help yourself. Do not divide on the basis of religion. We are all in this. Do not be indifferent to those who suffer or make mistakes. Do not be indifferent to those who need help. Modern society has buried His message under the so-called gospel of prosperity, capitalist rhetoric, work ethic, and other barriers to compassion. The message is still there if we stop and think about it.
It would do Christianity well to strip away all the distortions and deeply look at the radical Jesus.