It almost comes off like a dirty word lately…but it shouldn’t. Doctrine simply means the “teaching” of a particular view. Justin spends all this time trying to give an overview of Jesus’ doctrine (what He taught)…but then tags it with an intense expectation that doctrine should influence living. I’m not sure I would be as comfortable making the ipso facto statements about people’s salvation that Justin makes in this chapter, but it certainly gives us an insight as to the values and expectations of the church just a hundred years removed from Christ.
How much does the doctrine of Christ influence our lifestyle? Do we follow Him with our lives as well as our minds? If Justin were to time-travel and see the church today…how would he assess us, I wonder?
Chapter XVI.-Concerning Patience and Swearing.
Concerning how we‘re to bear up under hard times, how we are to serve others, and how we need to control our anger, he said this: “If someone hits you on one side of your face, present the other side as well. If someone steals your coat, don’t chase him down to get it back. If you live your life all bitter and angry at others you’ll end up being consumed by that inner fire. If you get forced into doing some work you didn’t sign up for, do that work, and any extra there is. You want to live in a way that shows off what God has done in your heart. Let everyone see it, because that’s how they’ll see the invisible Father!”
Our goal is to live in peace with our fellow man; we aren’t trying to force our views on anyone. He warned us not to follow the lead of those who push people around, but rather through patient humility, show people a different way to live. Many people who once believed as you do, who violently opposed our faith, found themselves being drawn into our convictions as they witnessed how those they attacked and cheated didn’t respond in kind. What they saw as we lived out our faith, changed their minds and hearts, and they’ve joined us on our journey.
The reason we don’t swear oaths every time we make a promise is because He told us: “Don’t swear an oath to verify your word. When you say yes or no, make sure you stick to that. If you have to swear an oath in order to keep your promise, its proof that your enemy still has a hold of your tongue.”
His words are the reason we feel so strongly that we can’t do anything that participates in worshiping other gods. He said, “The most important commandment God has given is that we only should worship and serve, with all our desires and strength, the one, true God.
Once, when someone was questioning Him, He was addressed as “Good Master”. Jesus answered by saying “There is no one deserving of the title ‘good’ except God who made everything.”
You will find that there are some who call themselves Christian who don’t live by these teachings I’ve listed. Please understand they are not Christians in our view. We believe Christ came to give us a different life, not just a new rhetoric.
Jesus said it this way: “Just because a person repeatedly professes that he follows Me, it doesn’t mean he’s really part of the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s not just a good talk that matters, but a change of purpose; to follow God’s will instead of self-will. If you hear Me, I mean really hear Me, you’ll set out to put my teachings into practice, and you’ll prove you’ve heard the One who sent Me. When the story comes to an end, a lot of people will try to crash My party, saying ‘Lord, we were all busy doing your work, we celebrated Your name, we even did some miracles using Your name!’
“I’ll tell them to get out, they aren’t on the guest list, they were just doing their own thing but calling it Mine. There’ll be a howl of anguish coming up on the day when those who’ve been made righteous shine like stars, and those who did their own will are set on fire, forever.
“Many are going to come along claiming to speak for Me, but they‘re just wolves wearing sheepskins as a disguise. You’ll be able to spot them by how they live their lives. These will be like diseased fruit trees that can’t give anything good to eat; they’ll be chopped down for firewood, that’s all that’s left for them.”
We can’t defend those who only say they are Christians, whose lives don’t show any evidence of the values of Christ. You’ll have to do with them whatever you please.