I’m not a Christian since I don’t feel a need to believe Jesus is the son of God. I also don’t feel the need to believe in an afterlife or an all-powerful being who controls the universe and tells me what to do. However, I believe there’s absolutely nothing wrong with people who do feel the need for such a being to exist- as long as they don’t think that every single thing in the Bible is to be taken literally.
Even though I’m not a Christian I try to follow many of the philosophies of Jesus as found in the Gospels. Some people who are categorized as Christians can’t truly be called followers of Jesus because they pay no attention to his basic teachings. Jesus is more than the guy you’re supposed to believe in to get your selfish butt into heaven. He spent most of his ministry teaching moral philosophies and attitudes using metaphor, simile and parable.
The Gospels were written years after Jesus’ death and none of the authors knew him. They were translated and transcribed over and over by countless other authors. How can you try to take a literal interpretation of stories told, transcribed and retold over such a great expanse of time? Well I’m no genius, but it seems to me that you can’t.
It seems to me that the true version of the Biblical Jesus can only be known by those general traits that are evident in multiple places in the Gospels. Traits that appear rarely can’t be ascribed to Jesus with any certainty. Those stories and quotes that don’t fit into the basic Jesus can’t be promoted as truth.
So what are the teachings of the basic Jesus? Well I’ve read the Gospels and it seems to me that certain ideas are basic, core aspects of Jesus:
1.) Ask questions, seek answers and think for yourself
2.) Loving people comes first, before money or ideology
3.) The spirit of the law, not the letter, is what matters
4.) Attitude is everything
5.) Happiness is found within
6.) Do right regardless of reward or punishment
7.) Don’t judge
8.) Your worth is based on how you treat others
9.) Nature is the highest aesthetic
10.) The highest forms of justice are all aspects of peace: mercy, kindness, giving and tolerance
11.) The greatest ills of mankind are greed (& the inequality of wealth that comes from it) and selfishness