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Central Message of Christianity  

In a recent CNN commentary, Fareed Zakaria (by his own admission not a Christian) made this assessment of Christianity: “its central message is simple and powerful: Be nice to the poor.”  Fareed ends with, “if you have a problem with this message…you have a problem with Jesus Christ.” The commentary makes a number of worthwhile observations.  Clearly, followers of Christ are called to care for “the least of these.”

However, to say that the message of Christ was mostly about loving and caring for the poor is to suggest that a visit to a steakhouse is mostly about the salad. Loving poor people and alleviating suffering of all kinds was certainly on the menu, but this was hardly the main course for Jesus. 

No question Jesus encouraged loving the poor and advocating their cause. To ignore them or exploit them is sin.  But as for the central message of Christianity, that is something much larger.  Jesus revealed it in Luke 19:10, “The Son of man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

In telling the world that He was fully God, fully able to seek and save, Jesus greatly offended the crowds (then and now).  Jesus said “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father but by me” (John 14:6).  He called Himself the exclusive way to heaven!

If the central message of Jesus was about being nice to the poor, he would surely not have ended up crucified with spikes driven through his hands and feet, his head bloodied and his body spat upon.   Clearly, His contemporaries understood His central message: “I am God.  You are all sinners in need of a Savior.  I am that Savior.  And by the way—there is no other.”  They did not crucify him for a central message of being nice to the poor!

I agree with Fareed that we have a moral obligation to be kind and generous to the disadvantaged.  Being nice to poor people is certainly a reflection of the character of the Christ.   But to reduce the central message of Christianity to “being nice to the poor” is not being nice to Jesus.  Or the truth.

If you have a problem with that, with due respect, you have a problem with Jesus Christ. 


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Jon GaugerJon Gauger

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