Who Will You Follow?
There is a picture on Facebook floating around. You may have seen it. It compares Ayn Rand with Jesus Christ. The headline asks: Dear Republican Party. Choose one Otherwise. You’re doing it wrong.
Ayn Rand a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter is known for her two best-selling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism. She was born and educated in Russia, Rand moved to the United States in 1926. She worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood and had a play produced on Broadway. After two initially unsuccessful early novels, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel The Fountainhead. In 1957, she published her best-known work, the philosophical novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward she turned to nonfiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own magazines and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982.
She’s an avowed atheist and championed a ruthless individualism that person self-interest above and before community and the greater good.
And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride. This god, this one word: ‘I.’
Man—every man—is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others; he must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life.
Every form of happiness is private. Our greatest moments are personal, self-motivated, not to be touched.
I am a man who does not exist for others.
Jesus the central figure of Christianity, most Christians venerate him as God incarnate and was a Galilean Jewish Rabbi regarded as a teacher and healer in Judaea, baptized by John the Baptist, and that he was crucified in Jerusalem on the orders of the Roman Prefect, Pontius Pilate, on the charge of sedition against the Roman Empire. Most contemporary scholars of the historical Jesus consider him to have been an independent, charismatic founder of a Jewish restoration movement, anticipating a future apocalypse. Other prominent scholars, however, contend that Jesus’ “Kingdom of God” meant radical personal and social transformation instead of a future apocalypse. The principal sources of information regarding Jesus are the Bible’s four canonical gospels, which most biblical scholars find useful for reconstructing Jesus’ life and teachings.
Christians traditionally believe Jesus born of a virgin, performed miracles, founded the Church, died sacrificially to achieve atonement, rose from the dead, and ascended into heaven, from which he will return. Most Christian scholars today present Jesus as the awaited Messiah promised in the Old Testament and as God, arguing that he fulfilled many Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.
You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?
Do to others whatever you would like them to do to you. This is the essence of all that is taught in the law and the prophets.
And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, 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 and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.
Therefore, will you follow Ayn Rand and those who think like her, those who put self-interest above the common good? Alternatively, will you follow Jesus who asked those who would follow him to love and serve others, to put community above our selfish inclinations? As an agnostic friend recently told me, it comes down to either money or service. Will we seek to increase our pocketbook or will we decrease ourselves to increase the happiness of others.
I know who I have picked. Who will you choose to follow?