Everyone then who hears these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on rock (Matthew 7.24-25).
And what exactly were those words of his? Here’s what he taught:
- The Son of Man was coming to the Earth to establish God’s Kingdom within the lifetime of his original followers (Matthew 16:27-28; Matthew 24:27, 30-31, 34; Luke 21:27-28, 33-34);
- His own people needed to be more ‘righteous’ in order to be part of this Kingdom (Matthew 5.20; Matthew 6.33; Matthew 13.49 etc);
- Being righteous entailed some extreme behaviour; loving your enemies, giving away all you had, turning the other cheek, forgiving repeatedly, being perfect (Matthew 5.44; Matthew 5.42; Luke 6.29; Luke 6.37; Matthew 5.48; Matthew 19.21);
- It was crucial to obey Jewish law, even if some of it could be reinterpreted (Matthew 5.17-18; Matthew 12.1-7);
- Once the Kingdom arrived Jesus himself would be King of the world, aided and abetted by his pals (Matthew 19.28; Luke 22.30);
- His followers would do even greater miracles than he did himself. Given he controlled the weather, healed the sick and raised the dead, that’s going some (John 14:12).
Anybody know anyone who believes all of this or lives this way? Anyone who operates on these exacting principles? I don’t know of anyone and never have. I didn’t even when I was Christian myself. Jesus demands are impossible. No-one can live according to them. ‘Of course not,’ say Christians. ‘You need supernatural help to live like this.’ So why don’t they, when they have God’s spirit living within them (John 14.16-17)? Why don’t we see Christians who perform spectacular miracles, who constantly go the extra mile, who give away everything they have, who are, as Jesus tells them they should be, perfect?
We don’t because no-one can live as Jesus insisted they should. Nor do we see Christians who believe his prophecies either, particularly the one about the Son of Man bringing God’s Kingdom to Earth two thousand years ago. Christians pretend he didn’t really say it, or if he did, that he meant something else entirely. They’ve changed his very words – the ones they should be building their lives on – to claim Jesus himself will be returning any time now (the synoptic gospels are confused about whether Jesus is this Son of Man, or someone else). When he does, they say, true believers will be going with him to Heaven. Never mind that Jesus teaches nothing of the kind and there’s absolutely no foundation for these beliefs in his words. As such, they’re the faith built on sand he tells them is worthless:
And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell—and great was its fall! (Matthew 7.26-27).
So, if Christians don’t do what Jesus tells them and don’t believe his promises or prophecies, then in what way can it be said they take his words as the foundation of their lives? Don’t they, rather, base them on Paul’s teaching, about a supernatural Christ who bears little resemblance to the zealous Jewish preacher they pretend is their ‘Lord’? Teaching that has nothing to do with that of the man who demands his pronouncements be the very basis of life? Paul doesn’t quote any of Jesus’ teaching. The foundation Jesus speaks of is of no interest to him; so, naturally, this is whom Christians follow – not Jesus, but Paul and his mythical Christ.
Christians have no time for Jesus’ words – and who can blame them? All he offers is impossible morality, false promises and failed prophecies. Far better to go with what Paul offers, because that’s about what’s in it for them. But even Paul didn’t believe anyone was going to Heaven, so they ignore that bit in his teaching too.