As many of my readers may know, I was raised in a Christian home and I still practice that faith today. My brothers and I were all raised with the same core set of values, which I think we all still try to practice as adults–all of us with swaying success. But while the ideals were always the same, the environment wasn’t. My family attended a great many churches, saw multiple forms of Christianity. But my family also had some very personal run-ins with addiction, absentee parenting, a fair share of narcissism, and a lot of financial highs and lows. I can only speak for myself when I say that I experienced so much of the greatness of the faith as well as so much of the nasty side of it; the believers who make the religion work for them instead of working for the religion. I didn’t say any of that to be prolific or make some jaws hang in my circle of friends and family, but to lay the foundation for what I’m going to go on to say.
Because of all of the hard left turns and roundabouts my family went on in what was always explained to me as our ‘faith journey,’ everyone I grew up with in and around church landed in very different places–politically, socially, and religiously. This was something that I struggled with for a really long time, wondering how some of my closest friends and family could have such wildly different perspectives on the Bible and what it says than I do, and I began to suspect it was just a personal issue.
But it’s not.
The Christian faith has splintered in the modern world, and it could be argued that it splintered the moment Jesus rose from his grave and returned from whence he came. Human beings have a way of taking other peoples’ words and making them sound how we want them to sound, and just because Jesus is the savior of humankind doesn’t exempt him from our process of interpretation and manipulation. But how does a church train a child on the ways of Jesus, a person so benevolent, so unattainably perfect? They ask the child one, simple question: What would Jesus do? WWJD? Anyone who went to church and most who didn’t would know this question and probably has a rubber wristband somewhere that asks the same thing.
When your eight, nine, even ten, it’s perfectly understandable: What would Jesus do? He’d share his carrots with Larry. He’d let Anne borrow his pogo stick. He would turn the other cheek, give a second chance. But then, one day, you wake up and you’re not a child anymore. Instead of sharing carrots you’re having to form an opinion about abortion and sexism in the workplace. Anne can borrow your pogo stick, of course, but what do you think about gay marriage? Your coworker is rude and you’re turning the other cheek every single day, but tell me, should we let Mexican immigrants and their children drown to death down at the border?
What would Jesus do? If he were here today, walking among us, what would he do? There’s only one option: Turn to the source.
Jesus would defend women. John 8:1-11. A woman accused of adultery, a crime punishable by stoning at the time, is defended by Jesus and set free to live her life.
Jesus would give the minorities and women a seat at the table. Matthew 9:9-12; Jesus dines with the marginalized of his society. Luke 10:38-42; Jesus invites a woman to sit with the men during a sermon in a time that that was not allowed.
Jesus would love and protect the immigrants, even if our leaders don’t. Luke 10:25-37. A man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho is robbed and beat within an inch of his life. Two religious and societal leaders pass him by, but another immigrant, a man from Samaria, saves his life.
Jesus would love people, regardless of their sexuality. Luke 7:36-50. Mary Magdalene, a woman believed to be a prostitute, walks in off the street and washes Jesus’ feet when his host, a religious leader, did not even offer. Jesus shows the woman love, not judgement, not shame. Just love.
Jesus would assist the homeless and sick of our society. John 9; Jesus gives a blind homeless man his sight back and tells the religious leaders that because they saw his need and did nothing that they were truly the blind men. John 5; a man sick and paralyzed for over almost forty years can’t reach a pool of healing because no one will help him. On the Sabbath day, a government-ordered day of rest, Jesus helps the man to pick up his bed and enter the pool. When the religious leaders accuse him of criminal activity, Jesus says, “My Father always works, and so do I.”
I could go on, and on, and share verse after verse about Jesus standing up to the government, to organized religion, and to the crooked ideals of false Christianity. In the Old Testament, God gave us the Ten Commandments. They were a set of rules, all equal in the sight of God. In the New Testament, Jesus gave us only two commandments, the greatest commandments. He told us to base every law of man on them: Love God. Love others and yourself.
What WOULD Jesus do? Love others.
Love them if they’ve had an abortion.
Love them if they’re pro-life or pro-choice.
Love them if they’re gay.
Love them if they’re straight.
Love them if they’re Mexican, African, Lantinx, Asian, Native American. Love them regardless of race, skin color, or birthplace.
Love them if they’re immigrants. Love them if they’re natives.
Love them if they’re addicts.
Love them if they’re sick or suffering from homelessness.
Love them. Welcome them. Be the light in this world that’s so often dark.
And that’s just it. Jesus would love them.
Now, maybe I’m just another splinter of the faith, another person interpreting it another way. If I am, I’ll answer for that when I die. But I’d rather die having loved than die having caused pain. As for you, reader, I believe that ultimately God gave you free will to follow his words or not to, but to live in love is to live by Jesus’ example. I believe that Christianity is an action, not a title. I believe that love is the greatest commandment, the greatest gift, and the greatest form of faith.
I know that June has been a slim month for posts, and I’m sorry! It has been a very busy time, because…
We’re pregnant! And we moved. And yes, we had a Bob Ross themed announcement because the man was an absolute delight.
Anyway, I will start keeping up with my posting schedule again this summer, so stay tuned and please subscribe and share this blog with your loved ones or people online you’ve never met before.
For more to read right now, check out the rest of the site and blog, and go to my Quick Reads page to find all the short fiction and poetry I’ve uploaded.
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