jesus interacted with many people from many different backgrounds. when jesus quotes the golden rule, he isn’t the first one to utter these words, confucius did — almost 500 years before jesus was conceived. there is speculation that jesus traveled quite a bit during his 18 silent years that we have no record for. some historians/theologians surmise jesus might have traveled to what is now known as britain and europe. others guess that he might have went to india, china and the rest of the world to meet, study and learn at the feet of other spiritual leaders; such as buddha.
in fact, right near where jesus lived and grew up was a port where there were major intersections and import and export of goods around the world at that time. it is no doubt that jesus would be heard of such religions as buddhism, zoroastrianism and others. in fact, he would have been aware of the two-kingdom split of the israelites in the Tanakh (Old Testament). jesus would have interacted with other religions. in fact, even in some of the stories jesus shows his compassion toward other religions. he meets up a few different greek people, who would have been cult-practicing ‘goa’ (anyone non-jewish). when jesus spends time with them, he doesn’t reprimand them for their practices. if anything, most of our theology of condemning other religions tends to come from Paul not jesus (compare the number of verses between the two). when jesus changes the story of the two jews walking on a dangerous road, to a jew and a samaritan (who helps the jew), he is also playing with interfaith advocacy and religious pluralism. now, for some, they might argue that jesus was advocating the philosophy that ‘all truth is god’s truth’, which i would wholeheartedly agree, . But, what if there is more to it? what if the reason why jesus didn’t comment on their religious state was because to him it didn’t matter. it was their heart and personal transformation he desired. (now, this is conjecture, i understand, but any other retort this will be just the same — keep this in mind). yet, we spend so much of our time fighting over ‘religions’ when we can agree jesus and i might add a person like buddha (who has written down that he wished people would not turn his insight into a religious movement) wanted something more than a set of rules or doctrines.
to assume jesus was here to create a ‘one-way’ religion (as is traditionally asserted) is to support the belief that god is truly small. it also doesn’t allow for the reality that god could easily break out all of our boxes, even the ones in this blog. we get so caught up in who believe in what that we forget jesus just loved people. he was a hippie. we should be hippies. but because our incessant need for labels and words have kidnapped mystery, we need to continue making sense of it all rather than loving people. the gospel isn’t about how bad people are and who need a small one-religion god. the gospel is hope (that’s what it means in aramaic), and that hope looks different for a christian than it does a buddhist or an hindu or an atheist. we have to see the gospel without our own interpretations. see it as the word is — hope. with no additives or preservatives, just extreme hope. jesus took the time to listen, learn and love. a lot of christianity is still learning how to listen let alone learn from other people. yet, learn we must. love we must. or we will be nothing more than a company who thinks our product is the best and everyone else’s (as the british would say) is rubbish. which is at the heart quite counter to jesus’s message of love toward anyone and everyone.