Sunday, July 13, 2014

Truth and Meaning: WWJD?

I remember when the WWJD bracelets first appeared and I learned that the letters stood for “What WouldJesus Do?” At first, I thought they seemed a little hokey; too much like a marketing ploy. But, I set aside my innate cynicism and saw them as a valuable tool offering Christians a constant reminder of the teachings of their spiritual leader.

Every day, I listen to politicians attack each other and ply their smoke and mirror tactics on the American people. “Look at this shiny scandal over here,” they tell us, and that way we won’t notice when they slash funding for public programs, attack our civil liberties, and increase the inequity of wealth in this nation. And I think to myself, what would Jesus do?

Jesus lived in a tiny and insignificant colony of the largest empire in the world at that time. Tyrants ruled capriciously, worshiped wealth and power, and entertained themselves by watching the suffering of others. Jesus had many options available to him. He did not gather armies and swords to fight Rome. And aside from one excusable instance reacting to the desecration of his most sacred place, he did not advocate violence or any kind of destruction. In fact, he preached the opposite – turn the other cheek.

What did Jesus do? He witnessed publicly his beliefs about how the world should be. And then he lived by those principles. He did not judge others who came to him for aid – young or old, man or woman, rich or poor, gay or straight, Jew or Gentile. He only rebuked people who placed adherence to rigid dogma over the crying need of the people.

Feed the hungry. Clothe the naked. House the homeless. Free the prisoner. Heal the sick. Give hope to those without hope. That’s what Jesus did. He ignored irrelevant rules and regulations. He accepted humble hospitality but assembled no material riches of his own. He didn’t kowtow to authorities. He simply spoke truth to power.

What would Jesus do today? He wouldn’t leave millions without access to healing medical treatment. He wouldn’t allow vulnerable children to be placed in harm’s way. He wouldn’t tolerate discriminating against any group of people for any reason. And when people are hungry, naked, or homeless, he would feed them, clothe them, and provide them shelter.

Many people consider America a Christian nation, and that our laws are heavily influenced by Christian morality. These people should ask themselves, “What would Jesus do if he were alive today?” War, racism, homophobia, misogyny, corporate personhood, and innocent people dying needlessly every day – is this what Jesus would do? If Jesus walked our streets today, would he preach these things, or would he preach acceptance and understanding, justice and equality, hope and love?

You don’t have to be Jesus to do what Jesus would do.

1 comment:

Patrick Murfin said...

Reminds me of a poem from my collection, "We Build Temples in the Heart.


Indeed, what would he do?

The son of sweet, foolish Mary,

who heard voices,

and that clueless cuckold, Joseph,

The boy, sawdust in his hair,

hands callused in his father’s service,

who lectured the sages of the age

as if they were children,

A known associate of that John, the Baptist,

who, despite spending half his life

knee deep in the Jordan

unaccountably stank

and roamed the dusty streets,

hair and beard matted,

a famous madman,

The slacker who left his employment

to wander in the desert

and hallucinate with hermit outcasts

who dwelt in caves

babbling about Light and Dark,

The would-be preacher

who gathered a pathetic cult

to follow him from town to forlorn town,

by turns begging and giving alms,

who fed the multitude,

embraced alike leper,

the unclean woman,

the mad,

who walked with whores and taxmen

yet spat defiance

at the Temple itself,

And who, at the end,

was condemned and abandoned,

put to disgraceful death

with common criminals.

Yes, what would Jesus do

if he came here today?

I can’t say as I know, ma’am,

but I don’t think he would

be driving your plush ride.

--Patrick Murfin