Monday, May 19, 2008

What Would Jesus Do?

The phrase What Would Jesus Do? has become a common one in our recent culture, particularly in churches and religion. The idea is a noble one, to think and act more like Jesus by pondering what he might do in given situations. But it has also become a cliche that doesn't really get followed all that carefully by many of those who use it frequently. In many of those same places or from many of the same lips that utter that phrase, there is little correlation in actions.

Many of the very churches that have sermons or classes backed up by that phrase have come to judge their own "success" by how many members they have, how many people are in their pews each week, how big their building is, how big of an addition they have planned for their building. The idea of following Jesus often relates to the act of "brick and mortar" building... gymnasiums, bigger sanctuaries, impressive dining halls, and more classrooms that only get used a few hours a week and sit idle at most other times. Yet, in our stories of Jesus, I don't recall him ever building a church - and he was a carpenter! And while there is nothing inherently wrong with that kind of success, its focus, and the focus on outward signs of success and public displays, often detract us from a truer connection that lies within the temple of our souls.

As individuals, we have come to place our identity with God in what church we attend, how big it is, who else goes there...rather than in the simple act of loving one another, no matter what our varied backgrounds, no matter how "bad" we see another, no matter how different his thoughts may be to ours. We place more emphasis on whether or not others are willing to convert to our chosen belief system than we do in loving them just as they are. What we need to understand is that touching, loving, and, uplifting others is not about a place or a building (no matter how outwardly impressive). It is about what dwells in our hearts...about giving up the need to judge others or decide if they are good enough for God. The Biblical passage, "Your body is a temple" means different things to different people. For me, it not only means that we should take care of ourselves and have heathly habits, but also that we are God's real church. We do not need dogma or doctrine, we do not need brick and mortar, we do not need fancy pulpits or impressive construction...we simply need the act of loving unconditionally, as Jesus did.

In further attempting to do as Jesus did, we should remember that he questioned the established religious beliefs. He dared to seek and show a better version of God than the existing religious authorities had created. How many of us truly act like Jesus in that way? Even the religion that asks us to follow Jesus (and tells us that we cannot have God if we don't follow Jesus) often condemns those who act as he did in this attacking those who dare to seek more or share a new vision of God...attacking those who actually attempt to "do what Jesus did". In this way, many are acting more like those who condemned and crucified Jesus rather than followers of his example.

The next time you hear or say that phrase, "What would Jesus do?" or see the acronym WWJD, take the time to think it through for what Jesus actually did and how he behaved, or at least in the very limited glimpse of his behavior that the chosen 4 gospels allow us to see. Dare to read the now available hidden gospels that the Church went to great lengths to cover up, even killing in order to eradicate their messages. (Hmmm...there must have been something pretty good in there if they were that afraid for us to even get a chance to read them!). In your daily actions, ask if you are doing all that you can to truly know God in the manner that Jesus did, or are you simply taking the more chosen and prescribed route. If you are not doing everything you can to see more, then you are not fully serving God, yourself, or humanity by even attempting to be all that you can be and allow God to be all that God can be.

No comments: