Arguably, Christianity is the largest religion in the World. But Christianity is not a religion, but a principle that ascribes to altruism. When Jesus summed up what He described as fulfillment of the law and the prophets, He was basically talking about altruism.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 5:12) (ESV).
Any other way, other than what was taught by Jesus is suspect. However, due to self-centredness, people desire to be in God’s Kingdom—yet not willing to follow the principles of altruism, as advocated by Jesus Christ (Luke 16:16).
The Law and the Prophets referred to, by Jesus, comprise the entire Old Testament Bible, as was recognized to denote the Jewish religion. In other words, instead of meticulously observing the precepts as recorded in those Scriptures, one is expected to just apply the principle of altruism.
“Now a man came up to Jesus and asked “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?” And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would entre life, keep the commandments.” He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, Honour your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. The young man said to him, “All these I have kept.” What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come and follow me.” When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions” (Matthew: 19:16-22) (NIV).
Was the young man sincere in desiring eternal life? Probably he was. But I suppose he wanted to attain eternal life, without missing the life-style with the status of being superior to his fellows? Eternal life, itself, is as easy as Jesus advised him to do what was necessary to attain it.
However, distributing one’s wealth to the poor, just for the purpose of attaining eternal life could, itself, not be what Jesus was talking about. Eternal life has got no commercial value. It is attained without any cost, except taking Jesus seriously.
Altruism implies that all possessions, as held by the person, become meaningful, only when benefiting others. Like a fruit-tree, that unconditionally produces fruits for the fruit-eaters, the person begins to think like Christ, whose appearance benefitted all. Yet Jesus did not benefit anything from those humans.
The young man had just declared: “All these I have kept.” What do I still lack?” (Verse 20) His swift declaration clearly shows a person having been meticulous in keeping the precepts of the Law.
But the young man exposes himself in failure to appreciate the significance of the last part of Jesus’ declaration: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” Certainly, one cannot keep wealth just to him/herself, when loving neighbours as self?
Even today, the Law-keepers, in their denominational seclusions, cannot understand this. As long as they are meticulous in observing whatever sustains their religious adherences. What does it mean to love neighbour as self? Still confronted by another inquisitor, Jesus clarified this:
“…….Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?’ He said to him ‘what is written in the Law? How do you read it?’ And he answered, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbour as yourself.’ And he said to him, ‘You have answered correctly, do this and you will live.’ But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, ‘And who is my neighbour?’” (Luke 10:25-29) (ESV).
In response, Jesus gives the popular parable, concerning the virtues of a Good Samaritan. Notice that in that parable Jesus deliberately avoids using the character of someone religiously conversant with the Law, in the place of a Good Samaritan.
The Samaritans had been known for not being Law-keepers. Analytically, all this has a telling, in terms of appreciating Jesus’ teachings. The reason why it is very necessary to expose these things is to remove all confusion in Christianity.
It is the same confusion that has caused Christianity to be ineffective—yet carrying the name of the known most effective problem solver—Jesus Christ. See [Value is in Positive violation of the Law of exchange].
Another peculiar thing about the Good Samaritan is that he did not look for support elsewhere, even from the relatives of the robbery victim. He simply took full responsibility over everything, including bills that would accrue later (Verse 35).
In the parable, the Good Samaritan appears as if responsible for causing what happened to the victim? His resolve is to handle all problems relating to the victim of the unknown robbers, without necessarily sharing the responsibility with anyone.
Nothing also shows that the Good Samaritan may have necessarily been a rich man? In fact, he could not have been identified among the rich people. The rich are known to be rich , mostly, as a result of shrewd budgetary controls. To maintain the status of being rich, un-budgeted spending is smartly avoided
If rich, the Good Samaritan could not have had the liberty to spend, outside the planned budget. The parable shows that the man was only preoccupied with solving the problem affecting the robbery victim, more than his own financial concerns. See [Created to solve, instead of creating problems].
The Good Samaritan behaves like the closest next of keen to the injured person. To him there is no need to pass the buck—having been the one who stumbled onto the injured person. He regards the responsibility as falling squarely on his shoulders. But he takes that responsibility gracefully.
Bear in mind that we had two highly respected religious officials who had already passed by—a Priest and a Levite. To them this had been one of the incidents showing how evil the world had become. See also [Jesus the unifier of Christians and humanity].
The priest and the Levite were highly respected, as to represent the most pious Christians, existing in our Christian world. Such people cannot readily help ordinary people in their time of need. They assume being too busy with the things of God, as unable to assist ordinary people in such conditions.
Denominations are known to, basically, qualify different types of religious leaders, deeply committed into Christianity. But such religious people are the opposite of the virtues displayed by a Good Samaritan that Jesus used in His parable.
Did Jesus imply that the Samaritans were holier than the Jews of that time? The qualitative adjective shows that the Samaritan in question had virtues, also not commonly found among the Samaritans. This was not an ordinary Samaritan, but a Good Samaritan.
How did this Good Samaritan acquire such virtues, without being connected to the Jewish religion? The behaviour of this Good Samaritan, is not, necessarily, for purposes of pleasing anyone. Apparently, his commitment to help the sick person had no ulterior motive.
The Good Samaritan derived pleasure in resuscitating the life of a fellow human being—about to confront some miserable death in the bush. The decomposing body of this poor fellow would have been ready meal for the wild beasts—had the Good Samaritan not intervened.
Though not a religious person, the Good Samaritan simply applied the principle of “Doing unto others as he would like them do unto him,” thereby—fulfilling what Jesus taught. This behaviour fulfilled what the Law and the Prophets required—which is Altruism (Matthew 7:12).
This, therefore, brings a different dimension to the definition of repentance, as commonly applied in Christianity. The religious people describe repentance as implying committing oneself to the doctrinal requirements, as prescribed by the denominational authorities? I find this to be scandalous—when also considering what Jesus declared:
“But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in. Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel across see and land to make a single proselyte, and when he becomes a proselyte, you make him twice as much a child of hell as yourselves” (Matthew 23:13-15) (ESV).
Jesus is lambasting hypocrites. But, unless one understands what a hypocrite is, one can be a classic hypocrite, without being aware of being one. In simple terms, a hypocrite is a person who practices righteousness with ulterior motives.
A hypocrite is the opposite of the referred Good Samaritan, who helped an injured person, at his own expense. Though not conscious of whether God was pleased or not. When doing what is good, in order to receive some blessing you would be a hypocrite.
Repentance, therefore, refers to changing from a mind-set of thinking about benefits accruing to self, but, more so, to other people. Hypocrisy is projected in those repenting to follow rules and regulations—in order to attain eternal life.
It is the mind-set that needs to be transformed, so that the concern is more about the welfare of fellow human beings in their desperate sinful conditions, than self. What the Good Samaritan did, came from his conscience. And this behaviour potentially risked his own life.
There could have been many excuses crossing his mind—insisting that there was no wisdom in exposing himself to danger—for purposes of helping a stranger. The Good Samaritan projected a mind-set that is not conscious of one’s own welfare—but the injured person.
The Good Samaritan understood the meaning of empathy. He had to put himself in the shoes of the injured person, who—due to his extensive injury—could no longer help himself. If it was the Good Samaritan in that condition, would he have desired to receive help from someone else?
This kind of behaviour is achievable to a person who consciously becomes willing to experience anything, towards helping those in need. And yet at the same time desiring to cause only that which other people are willing to experience. That takes away any form of selfish motive.
This is where the principle of altruism is applicable. The person seeks to satisfy the needs of other people ahead of own needs. The aspects of God’s Kingdom are achieved when deriving more satisfaction with meeting other people’s needs, than self. See [Personal Salvation vs God’s Kingdom].
Ordinary humans need salvation. But the sharks out there, are readily available to pounce on unsuspecting individuals. However, Paul extensively warned about these dangers. Deception promises more than is given, though appealing more to those also holding selfish motives:
“For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it is no surprise if his servants, also, disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their end will correspond to their deeds” (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) (ESV).
Christianity faces two most highly formidable adversaries. The first one—which could be more lethal than the other—is false Christianity. Many people fall into this trap—unsuspectingly—due to self-centredness. The victims are kept in temporary pleasures, without knowing what awaits them.
In desiring to receive things beneficial to self, the person falls into the trap. The deception could come through the sweetened prosperity gospel, or miraculous healings. The only encouraging thing is that the careful ones are spared. See [Christianity is divided into three categories].
Instead of practicing virtues of the Good Samaritan, Christian leaders implore converts to believe in those leaders’ own brand of Christianity. However, it can only be a question of the motive behind those preachers.
They entice those converts to be under their denomination, promising them protection and blessings. They therefore demand tithes from them—so that the preachers can be paid for doing what they describe as God’s work. But all this has got no reference to the principles of altruism, as applied and also taught by Jesus Christ.
They also appear as deliberately violating the principle of doing unto others as you would like them do unto you? The converts also feel comfortable, as long as being assured of safety under such ravenous preachers. Under those circumstances, the virtues of the Good Samaritan are left untouched.
The do’s and don’ts in such respective denominations capture the converts into believing that they would have fulfilled the requirements to go to heaven. As long as obeying instructions from their denominational leaders. But, obviously, such blatant deception results from carelessness, due to lacking knowledge of Scriptures.
Like the young man who walked out on Jesus (Matthew 19:22), those converts prefer evangelists who preach what they like to hear. They cannot entertain those preaching anything else. What makes them feel good is what identifies with their ego.
Having been hooked into such falsehood, requires a miracle to extricate those converts from such deception. They feel at home in those institutions of falsehood—rather than being told things similar to what Jesus told that rich young man in Matthew 19:16-22).
The second enemy of Christianity comprises the principle of capitalism. Profit-making is considered virtuous—rather than doing things without benefitting self. Entrepreneurship is regarded as necessary for a person to survive.
Nevertheless, if the Good Samaritan had considered the principles of capitalism, it would not have been possible for him to help the victim of robbery. The consideration of profits would have caused the Good Samaritan to conclude that helping a person in that condition would torpedo his cash-flow.
Perhaps the best he could have done would have been to send word to the injured person’s relatives? In short, the principle of doing unto others as one would like them do unto one, cannot be applicable in a capitalistic environment.
The Law of Exchange—applicable more in a capitalistic environment—demands not to be violated—so that the behavior of the Good Samaritan cannot be applicable. Therefore, no-one could fulfill the principle of doing unto others as one likes them do unto one. See [What did Jesus mean “Feed my flock”].
In true Christianity there is no profit motive. A person works according to conscience, as desiring to add value on other people. In other words, it would be God’s Spirit working to produce fruits—though using the person concerned.
Otherwise, our calling into Christianity is as free as the invitation to a wedding feast (Matthew 22:1-14). The principle of doing unto others as one likes them do unto him/her cannot be practiced by those still hooked in the spirit of capitalism.
Like the young man desiring eternal life, (Matthew 19:22), one cannot forfeit profits—having to help others without remuneration. However, in Jesus, there is no need to worry about anything, as in God’s Kingdom everything is available.
Unless all concerns about one’s own survival are discarded, a person remains in slavery. This is why Jesus said; whoever finds his life would lose it, and whoever loses his life for Jesus’ sake would find it (Matthew 10:39). See [Works bring the opposite of what is intended].
Jesus is the only one capable of practicing the principles of altruism. Human beings are generally hooked in the state of self-centredness. So that it can never be possible to apply altruism without Jesus, as altruism is personified in Jesus.
The more a person strives to achieve righteousness on his/her own effort, the more confused he/she becomes. Paul desperately lamented—when observing his inability to come out of such human limitations (Romans 7:16-25).
But Christ declares: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30) (ESV).
Foolishness grips those assuming that truth is found in denominational Church leaders. Truth is only found in Christ—insisting that only the truth sets people free (John 8:31-32). Most of those denominational Church leaders could easily be at the mercy of the devil—due to inability to discern between truth and error, by the adherents.
The only way truth can be evaluated, is in accordance with the motive behind whoever brings the information. Without altruistic value, the person bringing the information would be out to take advantage of the individual, though desperately desiring God’s truth:
“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the Kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it” (Luke 16:16) (ESV).
The invitation into God’s Kingdom requires surrendering everything for Jesus to take over (Luke 14:25-33). Eternal life is free but coming directly from the one offering it—and that is Jesus Christ. The only condition is sincerity (Romans 6:23). It would only be the lack of faith for a person to feel inadequate, when in God’s hands.
The only problem with Christians, today, is desiring to force their way into God’s Kingdom, due to the culture of self-centredness, instead of adopting altruism. Jesus is the only way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). Everyone needs Him—as without Him, all endeavours amount to nothing.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
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