Any credible historian believes Jesus lived, born approximately 4 B. C., and died around 36 A.D. The only question religious people and historians may disagree on was whether Jesus was simply a man, with somewhat delusional notions of grandeur, or, as Christians believe, the Son of God, the Messiah.
This blog isn’t trying to convince you one way or the other, but just looking at the facts.
I am not religious. I don’t call myself a Christian. But I am, nonetheless, mystified by this man that had no other message than love, compassion, humility, forgiveness, and salvation. I am, admittedly, in awe of his philosophy he preached; the most selfless ideas that ever emanated from a man’s mouth. Radical would be an understatement. Even today. Especially today.
If I look back through history and ask the profound question, “Who has had the most influence to mankind throughout history?”, there is really only one answer – Jesus, the man born in Bethlehem over two millenia ago. Two thousand years. After all, the entire dating and calendar system begins and ends based on his birth: Before Christ, and A.D., or Anno Domini, meaning “The Year of our Lord” in Latin (they just miscalculated by a few years).
But who was he? And how could a man, who possessed no formal education, held no political position, made no incredible discoveries, had no wealth of any kind, was born into a family without fame, influence or wealth, affiliated with noone of power or influence, was hated by all the powers that be during his era, wrote no books, had no notable achievements, never had a family, never owned land or even a home, never traveled far from his birthplace, or to any other country, and died as a criminal…how is it possible that he ended up being the most influential man in history, revered and even worshiped by billions, including nearly 2.5 billion people today, and changed the world in such radical fashion?
People don’t listen to crazy or delusional people with such intense conviction, or give their lives so willingly for someone whom they think is delusional or insane.
Following his death, a brutal crucifixion on a humble wooden cross, held up by rusty nails, accompanied by convicted felons on either side of him, his followers were so moved by his life and his message that the greatest empire on earth and perhaps throughout history – the Roman Empire – crumbled in his wake. His followers were killed, even more brutally than Jesus, in unimaginable ways, including in barbaric lion’s dens, eaten alive, burned alive, forced to renounce him. Yet, according to man’s written manuscripts, well outside of those included in the Bible, these devout followers didn’t wilt in the face of persecution or violent death. Instead, their numbers grew fiercely, exponentially, like no other that has ever come before or since.
He inspired the world’s best selling book, The Bible, far outpacing any other literary piece in history by orders of magnitude. Not to mention the countless books written about him, or inspired by him.
What kind of man has this impact to the world, to people, even today?
Jesus didn’t hang out with the wealthy or aristocrats, or the beautiful, or powerful, or business leaders, or the religious leaders, or the scholars and philosophers. He mingled with the impoverished, the homeless, prostitutes, criminals, society’s deplorables; what we would, nearly universally, call society’s losers. People, whom the vast majority, today, wouldn’t even bother looking into their eyes as they briskly walked past, including most people who consider themselves “good” people. Most people today, including Christians, wouldn’t be caught dead hanging out or dining, genuinely, not briefly or out of pity or charity, with known prostitutes, or criminals, or the filthy homeless. We only go so far as to give money, donate to charity, or volunteer at the food bank. We keep clean from these degenerates.
Jesus had no possessions.
He died of betrayal. Yet harbored no anger. He forgave those who would murder him. His only crime was that he called himself the way to God, the Son of God; blasphemy, punishable by death according to the Jewish religious law at the time.
Rising from the dead is impossible. But yet, how or why else would people of his time believe so fervently that he was indeed not of this world if he merely died as every man does? Second hand stories by a handful of people can’t possibly induce this type of hysterical following. No way.
It’s easy to say these were uneducated people looking for something of substance; it’s easy to dismiss it so readily given our arrogance today, believing only in an esoteric religion called science, believing only what we ourselves see and touch. But it’s difficult to dismiss the milllions and billions who feel otherwise, so readily. Or were – are – they ALL desperate and crazy too? Mathematically, it seems implausible.
It’s really difficult to believe he could indeed be God. I admit my own huge skepticism. But I can’t shake this feeling that, perhaps, I am wrong, given the facts and history. The rational assessment of all of these separate data points would almost force me to believe in the unbelievable, as much as I hesitate, refuse, to do so. But could I be wrong?
The point of this blog wasn’t intended to convert anyone, or even to convince myself. Instead, my goal is to contrast his philosophy and message with today’s world, and even the overwhelming majority of Christians today.
I’ll be perfectly frank. I’m utterly disgusted with this world, myself included. This age we live in has to be the most superficial, selfish, and morally depraved time in history. We worship a philosophy – and indeed it is a philosophy – more deranged and abusive than any other ever conceived. We call it Capitalism. Our true religion is science, an utterly simplistic understanding of our world and universe, fortified with fallacies of subjectivity and impossible to refute – with any data or argument. If we don’t know something, or can’t explain something, we simply say, “Science will tell us the answer one day”, with an unquestioned allegiance. You’re condemned as ignorant and brainwashed by religion if you can’t see this or see the fallacy in logic.
What would Jesus, or God, truly say about today’s world, of Capitalism, of materialism, of “me-first”? It’s a purely rhetorical question.
We live about as polar opposite to Jesus’ philosophy as you can get, including most Christians. I see the way people judge and look at the types of people that Jesus embraced. We look at them like they’re utter failures, less than human; without the dignity of even looking them squarely in the eyes, treating them with even a modicum of human respect – because they smell, are filthy, perhaps a bit crazy, impoverished, unsuccessful, lost, or simply lack the same ambition or intellect.
What makes you better? What makes me better? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
It’s time we judge ourselves before we do others. And hopefully long before God does.
If I do nothing else in my life, but make one or two people think about this, and maybe begin a life course change, then my life was utterly successful. Nothing I ever did, achieved, not all the millions of dollars I made, the inventions, the hundred million dollar businesses and jobs I helped and created, mean even a small pile of shit. None of it.
Step back a moment from our lives. Look at world. What do you see?
Am I so far off from the truth? Or, am I, like a man so long ago, completely deranged, fit to be classified as a loser.
Our possessions are worthless. Our achievements ruble to be made. Our legacy of family is great and fine, but surely this cannot be our only defining lasting achievement, can it?
There has to be more to this life beyond the pursuit of our own happiness, materialism, a philosophy of “stuff” accumulation, jobs and career, or protection of family only.
Because if this is it, then why we don’t all kill ourselves today is purely because we’re all insane. We are all obsessed about everything that truly has ZERO lasting value, yet unknowingly sell our souls to accumulate it. Even if there is no afterlife. TODAY’S value and pleasure, or comfort, seems to be weighed infinitely greater than everything else. Is that really logical or rational??
May God, perhaps Jesus, forgive us all of not just our transgressions, but for the lack of humanity in us all.
Jesus wasn’t about a religion, or Christianity. He was about an idea, radical and truly different to anything that was or has been since. If you can’t respect that, I wonder what it is that defines you.
Maybe we should all remind ourselves of what this life is really about, or even what our country once stood for, beyond Materialism and self:
“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
– Emma Lazarus, as printed on the Statue of Liberty
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
– The Bible
“…when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind…
If we want to make this world less despicable, then we all need to radically change. Maybe Jesus wasn’t such a lunatic afterall. It was never about charity giving, it was about treating ALL people with dignity, as TRUE equals, regardless of their worth or position in society.
Everyone says they want to be special, unique, or tries to be different (ironically, in a conforming way). I would say someone like Jesus, his philosophy, his life, is the only true DIFFERENT relative to this world today. Everything else is merely a slightly different shade of grey.
I doubt we will ever meet anyone who despised religion more than Jesus Christ – he constantly condemned them. He didn’t preach labels or rituals. He simply preached an entirely new definition of Love. Compassion. Selflessness.
And He lived it.
THE MEANING OF BEING BORN AGAIN
Regardless of whether you believe in any religion or none, how every human being can’t respect and admire Jesus as man of radical ideas, a better way forward, or as a role model, is something I will never understand. To me, whether or not Jesus rose from the dead is secondary to the fact that he did something noone else has or could ever do, he lived perfectly, according to His own philosophy and words. That, in itself, is the greatest miracle. And something that convinces me Jesus was something more than a man.
I can still remember the mockery of so many when George W. Bush, our former president, was asked during a debate, “Which philosopher do you admire most? Bush answered, “Jesus”. Would they say the same mockery if he had answered Aristotle, or Buddha? Of course not. This is the problem with politics. And the misunderstanding of so many regarding the original intent of separation of church and state. The chasm of difference between Jesus the philosopher and message, versus Christianity the religion, is about as wide of a gap as between God and Man. The many Atheists on the Left (and some on the Right), can’t seem to get over their personal hatred of western religion, basically only Christianity, when many of the ideas they passionately pursue (often using the wrong means) are exactly what Jesus stood for. So many things in our lives blind us to the obvious truth. Politics and Religion are the biggest blinders. It isn’t irony or coincidence that Jesus engaged in neither.
I’ve come to believe that Jesus’ message has been completely lost and misinterpreted.
Jesus said He is the way to heaven. We have to accept Him into our heart. We must repent of our sins.
I think all Jesus truly meant was that if we want to change, to be better, we must truly be remorseful of our sins, and change – the process of repentance; that accepting Jesus into our hearts simply means that if He lives inside our heart and soul – i.e. His words and philosophy live within us – that you will be rewarded by heaven. In other words, his philosophy and ideas are the true path to happiness – whether in this life or if there is another, I don’t know. I believe that believing in something beyond ourselves is a critical part of this. The “Faith” that we must have. Not because if we don’t, we will be condemned to a literal hell, but because if all we believe in is ourselves and now, then it will be impossible to live according to His philosophy, and our lives will always end the same, a miserable selfish road for one. He understood what an amazingly critical role forgiveness has in our lives and our hearts, our psychology – forgiving others, and especially ourselves, after repentance. It’s the combination of these things that matters.
But instead, religion has twisted these words and turned them into rituals, catch phrases, and ultimatums regarding our eternal consequences.
I cannot believe that an almighty God desires or needs our worship. Our love, yes, I would happily give if He is a Just and Righteous God. Respect, gratitude, admiration, yes. I am willing to bet my eternal soul on this. If a God created man simply for our devotion and worship, that is not an entity I will ever worship, regardless of the eternal consequences. But that does not reconcile with the God Jesus described.
I’m not sure if Jesus was the Son of God. Or if he came to save us from our sins, literally, by dying on the cross on behalf of our eternal soul. But I do believe His message can save us all from ourselves; from each other.
We create our own hell by the choices and actions we take, not God. We can, likewise, create our own heaven. But it begins based on an idea that there is more to life than ourselves, our family. That goodness or evil resides in every single one of us, and the it depends purely on the small and large decisions we make every single day; as well as whether we live simply for ourselves, for here and now, or for something far more – each other. Not in kind words, or charity, but in everything we do, with everyone, especially the lowest among us – those that Jesus embraced without judgement, with love, and a hopeful message. Even if others may ridicule us or designate us as losers ourselves.
THERE IS ONLY ONE KIND OF LOSER IN THIS WORLD: THOSE WHO ARE INTOXICATED BY THEIR OWN SUCCESS. BY THEIR OWN WEALTH. BY THEIR OWN POSSESSIONS. BY THEIR OWN POWER. BY THEIR OWN BEAUTY. BY THEIR OWN INTELLECT. BY THEIR OWN KNOWLEDGE. BY THEIR OWN LIVES.
As Someone once said, “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his soul?”