9 teachings from Jesus that challenge modern values


There’s a stark contrast between modern societal norms and the teachings of Jesus.

This difference boils down to perspectives. Today’s values often prioritize materialism and self-gratification, whereas Jesus championed love, humility, and selflessness.

Embracing these teachings isn’t about blindly following a doctrine but rather choosing to view life through a different lens.

Jesus’s teachings are a radical call to reassess our values and priorities. And believe me, there are certain lessons from His life that can provoke deep thought and challenge our contemporary values.

Here are some key teachings from Jesus that will make you rethink modern values.

1) Love your enemies

It’s a challenging concept even to the most patient among us.

In a world where retaliation is often the first impulse, Jesus preaches a different perspective. His teaching of loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you stands in stark contrast to today’s “eye for an eye” mentality.

This doesn’t mean becoming a doormat or tolerating injustice. It’s about fostering understanding, empathy, and forgiveness – even when it’s hard.

Imagine it. It’s the principle behind every reconciliation story, as well as those inspiring tales of individuals forgiving the unforgivable.

When faced with hostility or conflict, the default response is usually to react with the same. But Jesus suggests a different approach – one that requires courage and radical love.

Practicing this teaching not only challenges societal norms but also transforms our personal lives and relationships. And that’s a profound influence worth considering.

But remember, it’s not about pretending to be perfect or ignoring your feelings. It’s about striving for love and forgiveness, even in the face of adversity.

2) Display humility

This one hits close to home.

In today’s world, self-promotion and pride are often celebrated. It’s all about showing off our achievements and skills, isn’t it?

However, Jesus taught the exact opposite – He emphasized humility.

I remember a personal experience that taught me the value of this teaching. I was fresh out of college, landing my first job at a big company. I was eager to impress and started flaunting my skills and knowledge at every opportunity.

One day, my boss pulled me aside and shared a piece of advice that I carry with me to this day. He said, “Success isn’t just about showcasing your skills. It’s also about being humble enough to recognize the contribution of others.”

It was a wake-up call. I realized I had been so focused on proving myself that I had forgotten the importance of humility.

Jesus’s teaching of humility is about understanding your worth without needing to broadcast it for validation – a concept that contradicts the modern social media culture of self-advertisement.

Living with humility is challenging in an age of highlight reels, but it’s a transformative practice that deepens our character and enriches our relationships.

3) The last shall be first

In a society that cherishes the top spot, Jesus’s teaching that “the last shall be first” is a bit of a head-scratcher.

This principle encourages us to value service over status – to focus on helping others rather than striving for personal glory.

Interestingly, research in positive psychology aligns with this teaching. Studies consistently show that altruistic behaviors, like volunteering or helping others, lead to greater happiness and life satisfaction than self-centered pursuits.

So while our culture might push us towards individual achievement, it seems that true fulfillment lies in serving others, just as Jesus taught. It’s a challenging perspective, but one that can significantly enhance our sense of purpose and well-being.

4) Forgive seventy times seven

This teaching from Jesus is a powerful take on forgiveness.

Holding grudges and seeking revenge seems to be the easier route in a world where forgiveness is often perceived as a sign of weakness. But Jesus taught us to forgive not just once, but seventy times seven.

This isn’t about keeping a tally, but about cultivating an attitude of limitless forgiveness. It’s about letting go of resentment and embracing the healing power of forgiveness.

Forgiving someone doesn’t mean condoning their actions but releasing the burden of anger and bitterness.

This teaching challenges our modern values where pride often stands in the way of forgiveness. But the act of forgiving is liberating and promotes peace – a much-needed virtue in today’s world.

5) Turn the other cheek

This teaching from Jesus is one of the most challenging ones to practice.

In a world that often equates strength with aggression, the idea of turning the other cheek when wronged can seem counterintuitive, even weak.

But Jesus’s message here is not about passivity; it’s about responding to aggression with grace and non-violence. It’s about breaking the cycle of hostility instead of fueling it.

Turning the other cheek is about choosing peace over revenge, love over hate, and understanding over judgment.

In a society that often promotes retaliation, this teaching encourages us to rise above and respond with dignity and grace – a powerful challenge to our modern values.

6) Do not worry about tomorrow

This teaching from Jesus touches the heart in a profound way.

In our fast-paced, forward-thinking world, worrying about the future has become second nature. We’re constantly planning, forecasting, and stressing over what’s next.

But Jesus urges us to focus on the present. “Do not worry about tomorrow,” He said, “for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

This isn’t a call to abandon responsibility or foresight. It’s an encouragement to live in the present, to appreciate the here and now without being consumed by future anxieties.

It’s a reminder to find joy in the moment, to be grateful for today and trust that we can handle whatever comes our way tomorrow.

In an age of constant planning and worrying, this teaching encourages us to pause, breathe, and truly live in the present – a heartfelt challenge to our fast-forward culture.

7) Do not judge

This teaching from Jesus is one I’ve personally wrestled with.

We live in a world where judgment comes easily, where we often define people by their mistakes or differences. But Jesus said, “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.”

This was a hard pill to swallow when I found myself wrestling with resentment towards a friend who had wronged me. It was easier to label them as untrustworthy and write them off completely.

But this teaching challenged me to reconsider my quick judgments. It reminded me that we all have our struggles and flaws, and that understanding and compassion should come before judgment.

Releasing judgment and fostering acceptance is a tough task in a world quick to label and criticize. But it’s a lesson that can lead to deeper connections and more compassionate communities.

8) Love your neighbor as yourself

This teaching from Jesus is both profound and challenging.

In a world dominated by self-interest, the idea of loving your neighbor as yourself can often be overlooked. But Jesus places this command right next to loving God – showing just how important it is.

This isn’t about a superficial love based on convenience or benefit. It’s about genuine care, respect, and empathy for others, regardless of who they are or where they come from.

It’s about breaking down barriers of prejudice and discrimination, and embracing the humanity in each of us.

In a culture often divided by differences, this teaching invites us to foster unity through love and respect – a powerful challenge to our modern values.

9) Seek first the Kingdom of God

This teaching from Jesus is arguably the cornerstone of all his teachings.

In a world consumed by the pursuit of wealth, status, and power, Jesus calls us to seek first the Kingdom of God – to prioritize spiritual growth and righteousness above all else.

This isn’t a call to abandon worldly responsibilities, but to reassess our priorities. It’s about understanding that true fulfillment and peace come not from material possessions, but from a deep and meaningful relationship with God.

In a society that often measures success by material standards, this teaching urges us to seek a different kind of wealth – one that enriches our souls and impacts eternity.

Final reflection: It’s a matter of perspective

The teachings of Jesus we’ve explored are more than ancient wisdom.

They represent a countercultural perspective that challenges our modern values and invites us to rethink our priorities.

Whether it’s embracing humility, fostering forgiveness, or prioritizing spiritual growth over material gain, each teaching offers a transformative lens through which to view life.

Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” This quote echoes the essence of Jesus’s teachings – a focus on love, service, forgiveness, and humility.

As we navigate our fast-paced, achievement-oriented society, these teachings provide a compass for a more fulfilled and meaningful life.

It’s not about adopting a religious doctrine but embracing values that enrich our lives and those around us. Consider this an invitation to challenge the status quo and seek a deeper sense of purpose and fulfillment.

Graeme Richards

Graeme Richards

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