When most Christians think about Jesus, they project onto him things that did not exist during his lifetime. The rules, rituals and creeds we hold up in Jesus’ name, were actually later inventions by his followers. To be honest, we do not know how he would feel about them.
Many Christians are taught a view of theology that has no ethical implications at all. This is not to say that such Christians have no ethics, only that their actual theology is divorced from a message of justice. In that view of theology, the life of Jesus is a story about magic tricks. Jesus is born of a virgin, performs a lifetime of miracles, dies, and then, magically gets up from his grave. If you believe the story, you’re saved, if you don’t you’re damned.
When we study the life of Jesus as presented in the gospels, there are clear ethical implications from beginning to end. Jesus begins his ministry by saying he has come to announce good news to the poor. In the gospels, Jesus’ last parable (the sheep and goats) is given to remind Peter that Jesus can only be loved by caring for other human beings.
Jesus lived before Christianity. The rules, rituals and creeds of the church can be beautiful things when they do not replace Jesus’ core message. Jesus did not come to teach us Christianity, he came to teach us to love.
(This is an update of an earlier post)