Jesus is, like the God of the Old Testament, pretty jealous. He wants first-place in his followers’ lives. Which means that Christians first follow Jesus. If someone else were to contradict the teachings and life example of Jesus, then that person – be it philosopher, writer, leader, politician, etc, – would need to take a definitive backseat.
Luke 9, Jesus says:
If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me. If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. (NLT)
photo © 2003 Dave Gilbert | more info (via: Wylio)
In case that wasn’t clear, The Message translates it as thus:
Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You’re not in the driver’s seat—I am. Don’t run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I’ll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self.
The cross. Suffering. Self-sacrifice. Turning from selfishness. These are how Jesus says that his disciples are to follow him.
Partial transcript of Mike Wallace’s interview with Ayn Rand towards the end of this first part:
Rand: What would it mean to have love above self-interest? … I am marrying you for your own good… Every business has to have its own terms and its own kind of currency. And in love, the currency is virtue… You love people, not for what they do to you or for you. You love them for their virtues, for their values, which they have achieved in their own character. You don’t love everybody indistinguishably. You love only those who deserve it.
Wallace: So if a man is weak or a woman is weak, then he is beyond, she is beyond love?
Rand: He does not deserve it. He is certainly beyond it. He can always correct it. Man has free will. If a man wants love, he should correct his weaknesses or his flaws and he may deserve it. But he cannot expect the unearned – neither in love nor in money. Neither in matter nor in spirit.
Wallace: … There are very few of us in this world, by your standards, who are worthy of love.
Rand: Unfortunately, yes. Very few. But, it is open to everybody to make themselves worthy of it, and that is all that my philosophy offers them. A way to make themselves worthy of love, although that’s not the primary motive.
She is offering a different way. Her gospel is that one needs to be worthy of possessions and love by their “strength of character” before they should receive any material or social good-will.
Yet Jesus says that we must love our neighbors as we love ourselves (which is sacrificial. But it’s silly to argue that there is no self-love involved here).
Yet Jesus argues that we must care for, protect, be alongside the “least of these.”
Yet Jesus argues that we must die to ourselves.
Yet Jesus’ life was one of humbling himself.
How come Christians cannot see the trouble between following these two? Take the good she offers, reject the core of it – that I can understand. We all do that to some extent with every philosophy and custom we come across.
But why are so many Christians buying her selfishness wholesale?