Where Are Christ’s Teachings Applied Today?

JESUS CHRIST is widely viewed as one of the greatest men who ever lived. Many consider him to be the greatest man. For almost two thousand years, his teachings have profoundly influenced lives​—“small unnoticed lives of kindness and goodness as well as ambitious philanthropic gestures,” writes English author Melvyn Bragg.

What About Christianity?

What about Christianity? It has been described as “one of mankind’s greatest spiritual advances.” One viewpoint was expressed by David Kelso of Glasgow Caledonian University, Scotland. He wrote: “Its two thousand years of history are studded with unparalleled achievements in the realms of art, architecture, philosophy, music and social action.”

Many others, however, view things differently. Their problem is not with Christianity as it is defined in one dictionary: “A religion that is based on the teachings of Jesus Christ and the belief that he was the son of God.” (Collins Cobuild) Rather, they are repelled by the conduct of the religious institutions and organizations that claim to represent Christianity.

Nineteenth-century German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, for example, described Christianity in the latter sense as “the one immortal blemish of mankind.” It is, he wrote, “the one great curse, the one enormous and innermost perversion, . . . for which no means are too venomous, too underhand, too underground and too petty.” Granted, Nietzsche had extreme views, but a  number of more reasonable observers have come to similar conclusions. Why? Because over the centuries the conduct of those claiming to be Christians has been marked, not by the qualities of Jesus Christ, but by widespread “decadence, monstrous crimes and blasphemies.”

Is Christ in Christianity?

It is not unreasonable, then, to ask, “Is Christ still in Christianity?” “Of course he is!” some will immediately say. “Did he not promise his followers that he would be with them ‘even unto the end of the world’?” (Matthew 28:20, King James Version) Yes, Jesus did say that. But did he mean that he would be with everyone who claimed to be his follower, regardless of that person’s conduct?

Remember, some religious leaders in Jesus’ day felt that God was unconditionally with them. Since God had chosen Israel for a special role, some religious leaders thought that God would never abandon them​—no matter what they did. (Micah 3:11) Eventually, however, they went too far in their rejection of God’s laws and standards. As a result, Jesus Christ told them frankly: “Look! Your house is abandoned to you.” (Matthew 23:38) An entire religious system lost God’s favor. He rejected it and let the Roman armies destroy its capital city, Jerusalem, and its temple in 70 C.E.

Could something similar happen to Christianity? Let us consider what conditions Jesus attached to his promise to be with his followers till “the end of the world.”

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The teachings of Jesus Christ have a profound influence on millions worldwide