Y’know what’s missing from Justin’s discourse? It dawned on my just this morning as I was re-reading the chapter I’m posting. There’s no hint of the “self-help gospel” that is so prevalent today. Justin, just a little over one hundred years from Jesus, quotes Jesus’ teachings with nary a self-oriented spin at all. He doesn’t defend the faith by saying “If we do this, we get that”, but there is an overriding emphasis on others in his defense. How we as Christians live differently by loving others, looking after them instead of putting ourselves first.
I don’t know…the tonal quality of Justin’s gospel is different to me than the tune I presently hear. It stirs me.
Chapter XV.-What Christ Himself Taught.
Here are some of the things that Jesus taught us concerning how we should live: “If you look at someone wishing you could have sex with him or her, you’ve already committed a sexual sin in God’s sight.” And, “If you can’t control what you look at, you’d be better off putting out your best eye if that’s what it takes. It’s better to be one-eyed in heaven than have both eyes in hell.”
“Whoever divorces their spouse just so they can marry someone else is really committing legalized adultery.”
He also said, “There are some people who have stayed single because circumstances or other people have forced them into that situation. Some stay single because they are naturally suited to that lifestyle. Still others will take up a single and celibate lifestyle in order to devote their whole life to the Kingdom of Heaven. There won’t be many of these people; it takes a special person to commit like that.”
Because of the things Jesus taught, we believe it’s wrong for a man to have two wives, even if the law permits it, since it violates God’s original intention for marriage. His teachings are also our motive for having pure thoughts and not dwelling on sexuality, since God is able to know our thoughts, not just our actions. There are some among us who, in desiring to remain solely committed to Christ, have never been married. Both men and women of various ethnic backgrounds who have remained celibate their whole lives; some of which are advanced to their sixties and seventies, who have remained single in their devotion to God.
They are the exception. The rest, untold numbers of us, are people like you who have had our lives reformed by the teachings of Christ. Don’t get the mistaken idea that God only wants the “good” people, or the people who have everything together. Not at all. God goes out of His way to look for the godless, promiscuous, wastes. His own words were, “I didn’t come to try and rescue people who think their good enough already, but to rescue those who know they’re bad.” God’s priority is not to punish people, but to help them, to rescue them. Those of us who follow Him learn to love the same way He does.
He said, “Anyone can love people who love them first, that’s easy. Even really bad people are able to muster that up. I want you to pray for your enemies; when people hate you, repay them by loving them. If they cuss you out, praise something good about them. If they cheat you, pray for them, don’t try to get even.”
He taught us to help the poor, but not as a way to show off; not as a way to make people think we’re generous. He taught us to be generous. He said “Give what you can to those who ask for help. If someone needs help to make ends meet, don’t turn away from them. If you only help those who can pay interest on a loan, or make timely payments, how are you any different from all the loan sharks out there? Don’t hoard money or become stingy on this earth. All the stuff of this earth either gets lost, stolen or rots over time, it has no eternal value. Money shouldn’t be a motivating issue for you, you’re real treasure is found in spiritual things, in heaven! You could win the lottery and have all the money in the world, but if you don’t have your soul bound for heaven, what good can money do you? What would you pay for the knowledge that your soul won’t end up in hell? Money is a trap; invest in heavenly things, forever things that don’t get stolen or fade over time.”
“Think good thoughts and do good things for people who sometimes treat you badly, just like your Father up in heaven does for you! He isn’t kind just to those who deserve it, but a sunny day warms a good man and a bad man just the same.” “Don’t worry about what you’re going to eat or what you’re going to wear. You’re much more important to God than the birds and wild animals, and yet He makes sure they have food and warm feathers and fur. Don’t worry about food or clothing, your Dad knows you have needs; He’ll take care of you. Instead, put all your energy into following the way of the Kingdom of Heaven, into the journey home. As you concentrate on that, all the stuff the earthlings stress about will be provided for you, and you won’t have to worry at all. We become obsessed with the stuff we place our highest value on. Let that be heaven.”
“Religion is dangerous territory. If you start practicing my teachings just to look like really spiritual people to others, you’ll be wasting your time; your Father won’t fall for it. Live for Him, not for people’s approval of you.”