The point of Jesus’ ministry

I have been thinking for a long time that the way we have characterized Christian faith is maybe not what Jesus intended.  What if Jesus intended to impact how we lived more than what we believed?  Now I know that Jesus spoke a lot about belief in God who sent him and having faith in the kingdom of God that he represented.  But more and more I am not so sure that belief was the point of his message, but that what he intended was for us to live as he lived, to love, to forgive, to accept those others reject, to be part of the healing of this world.  I think that Jesus came to teach us to be better humans than more spiritual.

If that is true, then maybe the ones living those values are closer to Christ than the ones who “believe” the “right” things about Jesus, but live for themselves, or fail to exhibit those characteristics and values inherent to Jesus and his ministry as portrayed in the Gospels.

This thought reminds me of a parable found in Peter Rollins’ book The Orthodox Heretic: and Other Impossible Tales on page 57 entitled “Finding Faith.”  In this parable there is a firery preacher who has a gift that when he prays for someone they lose their faith.  In the story this preacher encounters a person who claims Christian faith but in business hurts and damages other people, knowing that in Christ he is forgiven.  He asks if he can pray for the man, who willingly allows him to.  The business man immediately loses faith.  Over the coming months he can no longer stomach the ruthless business practices that have characterized his career.  He leaves that mode of business and begins to put his experience toward helping and fighting against such practices.  In this story, did he lose faith, or find it?

2 thoughts on “The point of Jesus’ ministry

  1. I believe there is little doubt about how accurate you are here.

    Jesus indeed came down here to teach use how to walk in real Love, forgiveness for others, acceptance of others, ect. The important thing is the HOW. First, you cannot separate actions from beliefs. You paid your utilities because you believe not having it would suck. So your action bears witness to your belief. Yet, I think I get your point and I agree. If I believe in Christ, yet didn’t know know the “right thing” or the proper “belief,” wouldn’t it be possible for me to actually do the perfect hing, if I had the heart of love and care for others like Christ did? To this I have a profound YES. I think this is Exactly what Jesus was trying to teach us. It answers how the new testaments believers must have lived, as they didn’t have all the books and teaching we have now.

    The pharisees where great with the rules, but Jesus said it was not enough. He goes on to say that he didn’t come to abolish the rules or the law but to fulfill it. I cannot help be see that the fulfillment of the law is love. real heart felt love.

    The prophets said that one would come that would replace their hearts of stone with a heart of flesh. What we lack is not more knowledge of right and wrong, or more concepts to belief… we lack a heart.

    sadly, we see a small dog or cat on TV that has been abused, or we see one running down the street and wonder what they are going to eat. And if we have a heart something in use says that its not right. Never the less, we are waiting on some bible sermon, or story, or principle, or truth, that tells us that we should do something about
    a neighbor in need, or if we should give to the homeless forgetting that the bible says that against love there is no law. In fact all the prophets and the law are summed up in loving god and others. God makes it very simple to follow him. First…. get a heart. If you don’t have one, ask. Two, follow it. If there is an opening to love something, or your heart breaks or gets excited about something…. get after it. We have the law of Love to follow and its broad and wide and has no other laws nor principles to speak against it.

    As for Peter Rollins parable and final questions. First, by loosing his faith what are we talking about. Loss of salvation? If it means he looses God, then it makes him a man without heart. The Bible being all to clear about the natural state of man, even if the world could consistently live by the principles… it would all turn out wrong. Unless of course we want to try and make a biblical case for non Christians having the ability to love as God loves, to have a heart like Gods despite not knowing him. I cant make it, as the bible Claims the Jesus IS love, but I’d entertain the conversation. Adam lost a valuable connection at the fall… so I personally would be hard pressed. Though I must confess I have seen actions from non believers that seem to rival great christians. yet again, i cannot see their heart.

  2. Exactly…we don’t know hearts. We know actions or “fruit” as Jesus calls it. And I am making the case you spoke of…that if we are to judge fruit, as Jesus says, there are many who are not religious, not claiming Christian faith but live more Christ-like lives. And I think that pleases God. Believing in Jesus, might not mean an epistemological knowledge of Jesus but living life like he did. John 14:6 says “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through (or by) me.” I don’t think that is knowledge of Jesus, but life lived like unto Jesus. Another example is found in Hebrews 11 where in verse 25 Moses is said to have chosen the “abuse of Christ,” which means either that he had a knowledge of Christ (which is unlikely) and therefore suffered for Christ, or that without any knowledge of Christ (more likely) that his choice to suffer with and for others exemplified a similar suffering like unto that which Christ would willfully choose to suffer on our behalf. So if the latter is what the author of Hebrews is pointing to then he is praising Moses for acting like Jesus, not for acting out of a knowledge of Christ.

    Now I know that this is a leap for some, and as you said it is for you. But I am more and more convinced that our conceptual knowledge, or that which we think we know for sure about Jesus and God is not what generates “Godliness” in us, but it is the lives lived like or in the character of Jesus, whether with or without epistemological knowing.

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