Is it possible to learn from Jesus, without being Christian? Yes.
Mahatma Gandhi was a Hindu who admired the teachings of Jesus, but never became a Christian. Gandhi’s ideas about ‘passive resistance’ come directly from the Bible, and that wisdom brought almost a billion people, in South Asia to independence, without a destructive civil war.
Today, the nations of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal, and probably Burma, owe a great debt to Gandhi, the peaceful liberator; and his ideas came from Jesus. Gandhi the Hindu treated Jesus like a guru, and that changed to history of the world, in a good way.
In Webster’s dictionary, a “Guru” is “a personal religious teacher and spiritual guide in Hinduism.” Jesus was Jewish and not a Hindu, but we apply the definition to Him, easily. You might have heard of “WWJD” for Protestants and “Imitatio Christi” for Catholics, and similar ideas for Orthodox Churches. “What Would Jesus Do?” dates back to 1896, from a novel by an American writer Charles Sheldon. The Roman Catholic and Greek Orthodox ideas are much older.
This all goes back to the time when Jesus was a wandering holy man in northern Israel. He taught like a wandering guru, and people were impressed. He did not wander in India, so He is not commonly called a guru, or the Jewish name rabbi, but the names apply. This is only half of the story, but Jesus did give people practical advice on how to live successfully.
Here is some basic advice from the life of Jesus: ‘It’s not about you.’
Do you want to sell more real estate, or get your personal life together, or maybe find real romance? Anything we do, where success is important, requires a wise guru; someone who gives us wisdom for success. This is like Jesus without the religion, and it can be done. Really, this should be done by everyone.
Learn that it’s not about you.
The instructions are clear:
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. (Philippians 2:5 to 7)
That’s how we should live, if we want success. Never sell what you enjoy selling, sell what the customers enjoy buying. Every city has small businesses that sell what the owner loves. Most of those businesses fail, because they don’t sell what the customer wants. Selfish people with large egos ruin everything.
If you want an example of the best way, see this video:
Your life is not about you, you exist to benefit others. Jesus is the extreme example; He did not stay in a heavenly resort and spa where He was most comfortable. He came down to us, and lived a stressful life in a poor province, for our benefit. From that beginning, Jesus is statistically the greatest success in the history of the world. 2.2 billion people, 31 percent of the world’s population, claim to follow Him, after two thousand years. He’s bigger than Gandhi.
Something became nothing; someone became no-one.
If we stop there, success in life is guaranteed. The world’s greatest success knows how you can succeed. Be humble and selfless, and work to benefit others, and you can actually change the world.
But if you stop there, you have to stop reading. The text quoted above, about being unselfish, continues with some very radical ideas:
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross! Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2: 8 to 11)
Success in this world is a good ambition, but Jesus worked to be the greatest success in the Universe. Guru Jesus, wandering the province of Galilee, was not enough for Him. When He was arrested and executed on a cross, the followers of the guru were confused, and many dropped out. They wanted a kingdom with a wise ruler, but what Jesus gave us is a heavenly kingdom, and a Holy Spirit. We don’t get the improvements that we want, we get a new existence.
I know there are many Gandhis in Christian churches. People who only read the first few lines, and use the success formulas from Jesus, and some of those people are pastors and preachers. I was like that, and I know the formula works. I can admire Jesus without being too religious.
I have learned that the story continues, Jesus offers us a radical new life, not just improvements for success. I hope you are able to learn that same truth.
Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (Revelation 22: 12)