Would you believe this post was brought to my mind due to a former Olympian athlete? Indeed the recent stories and interviews with Bruce Jenner have inspired the following words.
When I was growing up there was a popular phrase that went around, and they even made bracelets emblazoned with the initials to remind folks how they needed to proceed. “What would Jesus do.” Or “WWJD.”
I thought it was a great thing overall, and it was a wonderful idea to remind people of how to treat others. I mean, shouldn’t we all strive to be more like Jesus? I know that’s certainly my goal. But what happens as a result is often very un-Jesus-like in my humble opinion.
For example, it became a way for people to point out others’ inadequacies if they appeared to fall short. If someone made a mistake, or reacted in anger, whether it was righteous anger or not, this was brought up. It became a way to guilt someone for their behavior, and it was used almost as a condemnation. Tsk-tsk, now what would Jesus do?
While the phrase has fallen back into the last millennium the way we use Jesus as how to behave persists. In theory it’s a fine idea, but the problem is that how we feel like Jesus acted is different depending on who you ask.
Some folks pick certain scriptures and that’s where they stand allowing the rest of the gospels to fade away in their mind. Some people point at Jesus in the temple, and they puff out their chest with descriptions of his behavior towards the money changers. They assume his turning over of tables and raised voice means an intolerance of sin is the way to go. Well, I can totally agree with that, but I don’t allow my study of Jesus to stay in the temple.
I still have a lot to learn in my study of God’s word, but I see many facets of my Savior described. Some people recall our Lord at the well talking to the Samaritan woman. They will see his acceptance and love of a woman chock full of sin in her life, and they will shout from the mountaintops how we must not be intolerant of those who fall short the law that God has spoken.
Still other people will recall Jesus drawing in the dirt. They will remember his protection of the adulteress, his commandment to judge not, and his instruction to only cast stones if you’re without sin. Many people will remain nonverbal on important matters of sin, and when a friend has fallen and needs Christian counsel they will stand silent with their hands clasped in shame. After all, not one of us is without sin, right?
I did not watch the television interview with Bruce Jenner. I just didn’t want to. But I have read a few articles on the subject since then. Everyone has an opinion, you know? I read a couple of blog posts on this matter written by “Christians,” and even I was surprised by how different people can view the same circumstances.
One article I read described Mr. Jenner as a “sick and delusional man.” It was written by a proclaimed Christian author, and while I agreed with many of his points, the way he presented his vehement words made me cringe. He was all “turning over tables” and zero “talking to a sinner at the well.” His article lacked any of the thing that I think my Jesus represents most. Love. Jesus did tell the woman to “sin no more,” but if he called her sick and delusional I must have missed that part.
I do understand. You see, being a Christian is hard. It’s a difficult balance to maintain, and that’s what makes the Christian walk so hard. It’s hard to hate sin, but not be labeled by the world as intolerant, bigoted, and hate-filled. It’s hard to express righteous anger, but still handle every aspect of your interaction with others in manner of love. It’s difficult to allow your light to shine, but not compromise your belief system. But we did receive the perfect example of how to maintain this balance.
What would Jesus do?
Would he agree with a lifestyle that goes against the commandment of his Father? Absolutely not. But would he approve of our maltreatment of our brothers and sisters? Did he not command us to love each other as he has loved us? (John 15:12).
Matthew 22:36-40 New International Version (NIV)
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[a] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[b] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
I’m not asking you to agree with Bruce Jenner or the LGBT community, and although I do feel confident of what I see the scriptures to read on this subject I will not write an article that gives the appearance that I am condescending and feel confident to throw stones since I must be without sin. And while this is definitely a way to stand up for your belief system and what the Bible proclaims as truth, it is certainly not going to change the opinions of people who disagree with you. Mr. Jenner will not read an article like that and decide that he wants to change his life.
As a Christian how you treat and speak to others is a direct representation of our faith.
So what kind of Christian are you? Are you one eager to turn over tables in the temple without embracing the woman at the well? Will you be one who is courageous enough to take the stand and say sin no more, but remembers to always follow the first commandment which is to love? Are you the kind of Christian that will bring people into the arms of Jesus, or chase them away with unbridled anger? That by the way sounds a lot like hate.
It’s not easy, and I’m not saying it is. This is something I’m still working on. It is something that I am striving to obtain every day, and it is really tough. Thankfully I do have an example that’s been set for me. WWJD? He gives the answer right there in the Good Book. The key is to not just take some of it, but to absorb it all. To listen to every word he spoke, every action he took, and try your best to be the kind of Christian that is like Christ.