Springingtiger's Blog

A Rich Young Man.
January 1, 2018, 15:16
Filed under: Uncategorized

It is several years since I have described myself as a ‘Christian’. After I rejected the Pauline theology of the Church I described myself for a long time as ‘a follower of Jesus’. However I may be described, one thing has been constant, even today my behaviour and attitudes to others are guided by the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew.
In 2018 I intend to refresh my acquaintance with Matthew’s Gospel. Why now? Because 2017 and 2016 have been distinguished by people who profess to be Christians telling the rest of us how to behave. I know the same is true of other religions, but I am more familiar with Christianity so that’s where I’ll start.

When a student I fell under the influence of St. Francis of Assisi. He was guided by the Story of the Rich Young Man which is found in Matthew 19: 16 – 24, but effectively to the end of the chapter, to give away all his possessions. I took the easy route of merely handing in most of my possessions to Oxfam, I retained a couple of changes of clothes and the books I needed for my studies. It has been easier to get rid of possessions than remain free of them. However it shook the hold of the material and on a later occasion allowed me to just leave behind possessions moving with only what I could carry. Once again I find myself with rather more than is convenient, but that’s another story.


A useful side effect of having followed Jesus’s words to the rich young man was that I could weaponise the words in conversation with people determined to impose their Christian opinions on me. I would merely quote Jesus’s injunction to “sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me.” I would then ask them when they had followed the injunction which usually led to objections that the words should not be taken literally. But if not these, I would ask, why any others? I then told them to come back and talk to me about their faith after they’d got rid of their possessions, none ever did.

The Rich Young Man is a good measure of whether a person has any right to use their Christianity to justify their actions, people like Donald Trump, Teresa May, Jacob Rees Mogg. The bottom line is this, it is a person’s conduct that matters rather than their words. If their actions are not congruent with their professed faith they are hypocrites. They should not be ignored, that would be dangerous, but resisted: by Christians because they pollute Christianity, and by the rest of us in so far as we believe their actions are wrong.

I have no objection to Christians being guided by scripture, they should be. However should they profess to be Christians they should live coherent with the teachings of Jesus. Me, I prefer not to be a ‘Christian’.

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