Thursday, November 1, 2012

WWJD?

I find the bracelets and use of "WWJD" to actually be pretty annoying... but mostly because it seems like the message got lost somewhere along the way.

But if you go and read about it and the history behind it - and, surprisingly, there really is history - it's pretty interesting and eye opening.

Would you believe that the phrase dates back as far as 1896?  Go read that link.

There's a lot to read about Jesus - that whole New Testament thing, those Gospels that tell the story of His life and death and resurrection.  The miracles, the teaching, the compassion.

So what would Jesus do?

Would He stand outside an abortion clinic with a picture of an aborted fetus and scream at the car pulling into the parking lot?  Or would He be ministering to those who are in such a situation that they are considering abortion?  Would He be inside the walls, comforting, loving, and connecting to those making such a difficult choice?

Would He refuse to care for the sick and dying because they don't have jobs or insurance or family to care for them?  Or would He comfort, love, and maybe even heal them?

Would He donate to a food pantry, work in a soup kitchen?  Would He figure that if you don't have a job, you've done this to yourself so why should I hand anything to you?  Or would He take a loaf of bread and a fish and feed thousands?

The most common themes that Jesus preached were mercy, love, and grace.  In the Sermon on the Mount and the Sermon on the Plain, He made it very obvious what is expected of those who follow Him.

Love your enemies.
Turn the other cheek (instead of an eye for an eye).
Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Don't judge someone else's sin when your own sin needs to be attended to.
You are known by your fruit - a good tree does not produce bad fruit and a bad tree cannot produce good fruit.
Blessed are the poor, the hungry, the meek, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those persecuted for righteousness.
You are the salt of earth.
You are the light of the world.

Jesus was radical.  Jesus was a rule breaker, a fighter, a lover, a miracle worker.  This dude shook things up.  He took the laws of the world and tuned them upside down.  He took the laws of the Old Testament and kicked it up a notch.

That old commandment said "Don't kill."  Jesus said - don't kill but also know that words kill.  And when you speak out in anger against someone or to someone, you are killing them.

Old commandment - "Don't commit adultery."  Jesus said - yes, don't sleep with someone else's spouse.  But more than that, don't look at others lustfully, don't raise your hand threateningly.  And even more than that, just because the Old Testament gave you legal divorce, I can see that you are using it as an excuse for your selfishness.  When you use divorce wrongly, you are setting yourselves up for adultery.

Old commandment - "Don't lie."  More than that, Jesus said not to use religion to make yourself sound good.  Don't say "I'll pray for you" if you aren't going to actually pray for them.  Don't say "God be with you" if you don't mean it.  Adding religion to your words to make them sound better is manipulating words for your own benefit and that's wrong.

Jesus told people to quit being selfish, to quit protecting their material things, and to be more than they are, give more than they think they can give, and to do these things to people you don't even like or people who come after you hatefully.  What??  That's crazy!  But look at Matthew 5:38-48.  It's pretty clear.

Love Your Enemies 

 Here’s another old saying that deserves a second look: ‘Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.’ Is that going to get us anywhere? Here’s what I propose: ‘Don’t hit back at all.’ If someone strikes you, stand there and take it. If someone drags you into court and sues for the shirt off your back, giftwrap your best coat and make a present of it. And if someone takes unfair advantage of you, use the occasion to practice the servant life. No more tit-for-tat stuff. Live generously. 

You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst. When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that. 

In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.

So where did all this preachiness come from today?

A friend of mine from college posted about experiences he's endured lately and it made me angry and it made my heart hurt that there are people in the world who stand behind their faith as an excuse to hurt other people.

Would Jesus call some a faggot?  Would Jesus allow a child to call someone a faggot?

Would Jesus stand by and watch us as we think mean thoughts, say cruel words, belittle others with our choices?  Would Jesus hand us the stone to literally throw to go with our words?

Or would Jesus remind you not to kill... not to kill the spirit of someone else with your words and your actions and your thoughts... would Jesus remind you not to harm others but to take His commandments seriously and go out into the world and purposefully seek to help and uplift and serve?

We all want to drive our own selfish moral train and stand behind the Bible while we do it.  We yell and scream about people on welfare, about gay marriage, about health care, about food stamps, about special services for kids, about women who get abortions, about rape and pregnancies, about all kinds of things.

But who stands on the corner with a sign showing their own sins?  Who stands up and shouts and screams about their own wrongs?  If you're going to claim to be a Disciple of Christ, doesn't that include the entire picture?  Doesn't that mean really challenging yourself to get very seriously real about grace, mercy, love, and servitude?

Because isn't that what Jesus would really do?

Photobucket

5 comments:

Rebecca said...

This is a great post. I believe that Jesus is always kind and patient and understanding. He's here to help and guide and carry you through the rough times no matter how good or bad you are.

Laurie Matherne said...

You summed it up well, Liz. In my heart, I hope that I honor Jesus as he would want to be honored in this crazed, religious, hate-filled world. On the other hand, I am ruined for the phrase WWJD. For me it will always stand for Who Wants Jelly Doughnuts?

Liz's Mom said...

The "eye for and eye" is not about revenge but rather is about making the punishment fit the crime. You don't lock someone up for a dozen years because they gossiped about someone. You don't let someone murder and then fine him $10. You use an eye for an eye--the punishment fits the crime.

C. Beth said...

LOVE this!!!

Alison said...

I'm re-reading a book that does a great job for me of explaining how Jesus turned the world of religious rules upside down, as you said. It's quite long, but maybe it will capture you enough to speed through it like I have! It's "Mary Called Magdalene" by Margaret George, first published 10 years ago. If you've already heard of it, I'd be interested to know your opinion.