If you’ve known me, or read this blog for any length of time, you’ll know that I’m a bit justice/poverty obsessed. I think my friends get sick of me ranting about it – at least on here you can just choose not to read! Just about everything I think or do has some sort of link back to it – positive or negative.
I’m not sure you’re supposed/allowed to choose but my “favourite” part of Jesus’ ministry is most definitely his teaching about and work amongst the poor and socially marginalised. Even without the God chat it’s hard not to admit he was a pretty cool guy.
Now don’t jump to conclusions and be too quick to call me a heretic but, I’ve been thinking recently about whether or not I’d still pay attention to him if he had just been a guy with some good ideas. Does the God stuff actually make a difference? Why do I pay attention to his social ethic and not that of other “gods” or philosophers? Why am I not happy to simply stive to be a “good person”?
My Dad recently pointed me towards the Dalai Lama’s twitter feed and I read it with some interest. He speaks a lot about compassion, poverty, peace, love, kindness and human harmony, just like Jesus! Yet, as I read, I feel there is something lacking.
For example, he (or I assume someone on his behalf) tweeted:
I think it is very important to know we can each transform ourselves into a better, happier person. I think it’s important to recognize this
Compassion instills a sense of calm, inner strength, and a deep confidence and satisfaction.
Despite philosophical differences, all major world religions have the same potential to create good human beings.
I don’t know about you but I know I can’t make myself a happier person. I can fill my life with things that make me feel happier but it is always going to be superficial. The only thing which can give me true joy and contentment is the love of others, and in particular the love of God. I got me some transformation when I decided to follow him. Every time I try to make it happen for myself it fails horrendously. Only when seeking Him am I truly happy.
Jesus is all about the compassion. He’s a very compassionate guy. He’s all love your enemy, pray for those who persecute you, lend expecting nothing in return. AMAZING. And the reward for these selfless acts? Nothing but being called “sons of the Most High”. Philosophers and ethicists suggest acting in a compassionate way for your own good and the progress of the human race. God just wants to be glorified and be able to call us his children. That’s what sets Jesus apart.
How can we possibly define a “good” human being? I might do good things but if good is the absence of evil, I’m never going to make it. I’m going to evil/angry/selfish/imperfect thoughts, desires, motives and actions. “Good” as the world sees it isn’t enough for Jesus. He says to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Matt5:48). That takes a transformation of a Godly sort, not something our human will can conjure.
So Jesus isn’t just like any other good man. He’s the good man. I wouldn’t follow any other good man because all the others make it about the being good. He makes it about a relationship with God. The God stuff makes all the difference! His social ethic is radically different because of this and the person he asks me to strive to be is so much more than simply “good”, its the person God created me to be.