We often tend to view Jesus as a savior, son of God, prince of peace. But have you ever thought of Jesus as an influencer? From a business standpoint, Jesus was pretty good at marketing himself in his day. Jesus was a credible teacher, storyteller, and an engaging speaker. He crafted memorable sayings, and used visual illustrations to create experiences for his followers.
Jesus’s marketing methods were so good that not only did he heavily influence his community, but also a third of the world today.
Jesus never had the political or economic power that conventional wisdom would deem essential for becoming an influential figure in history. In fact, he came from humble Jewish surroundings. He never traveled more than 200 miles away from his home, and during his life he only had a small group of simple followers. Jesus tried to keep a low profile, yet people flocked to him.
This begs the question: how could such a humble man have such historical influence? Sure, turning water into wine would gain anybody a mass following, but it is not the miracles alone that made Jesus so influential during his time on earth. There has got to be more to the story of Jesus’s influence. Maybe it’s the fact that he was the son of God, or maybe it is just the simple fact that Jesus’s teachings made an impact on the lives of his followers. Maybe it’s that his teachings really do add value to our lives. Here are three of Jesus’s teachings that have influenced the world as we know it.
Love the Lord your God
In Matthew 22:37 Jesus tells us “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.” For me the key phrase here is ‘you must’. The key lesson here is that love is a choice. Love is not burning infatuation. It is a choice. A choice that you commit to. A commitment to love when you don’t feel like it, or when it is hard. It is not always convenient, but it is what we are called to do. Love the Lord your God with your whole being, not half, but with all of what you are.
Not only are we called to love God with our whole heart, but we are called to love our neighbor as we would love ourselves. This is pretty interesting to me because I believe that when you truly love God, you see God in every living creature, not just your neighbor but in the beautiful world that God created. And when you are filled with that universal love you desire to take care of the people in your community, the animals beside you, the earth and its natural splendor. This is the greatest commandment: love God and what God created..
Today we’re tempted to focus on ourselves, materialism, and immediate gratification. When we replace our selfishness, hatred, and anger with love we are able to be more connected with God, Jesus, and those around us in a beautiful way. Not only will we have peace within our hearts, but that peace and love will seep into the world around us.
The Golden Rule
I am sure you can recall learning the golden rule when you attended preschool. In Luke chapter 6, Jesus tells us to treat others how you want to be treated. Jesus says that if we do that then we will be blessed, but how will treating others with respect and kindness benefit us? Well if you think about it, if you treat someone nicely don’t you think they would treat you nicely back? It is such a simple concept that we often forget.
In biblical accounts about Jesus, it is said that Jesus would often leave the group to go pray on his own in solitude. It was important that for Jesus’s great influence that he would spend time alone praying and communing with God. I think that is the main thing that made Jesus such a masterful teacher: the fact that he took interpersonal time to be with God and communicate honestly with God. Jesus set the perfect example of how we should pray to God, and that we should do it often.
We may not always be able to spend ample time praying, but we can find liminal moments of time when we are by ourselves to commune with God. For instance maybe on the drive to work, or when taking the dogs out on a walk. Whatever time available to escape from the world and retreat into God’s presence is a good time to pray. God’s loving presence is always there for you. God is listening when you are expressing your gratitude, and when you are crying out for your needs to be met.
It’s pretty amazing that a humble man can still have a powerful influence in our modern day world 2,000 years after his death. It also amazes me that Jesus was able to create a powerful influence in the world without any of the technology that we use today. All this goes to show that Jesus was a master teacher, and his teachings still apply to us today. Thousands upon thousands still cling to his words. Why? Because Jesus’s simple teachings really do add value to people’s lives, and they have literally changed the world.
Madison Myers is a student at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, majoring in marketing. She has traveled to a majority of America's National Parks and is eager to see them all.