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Tuesday, November 03, 2015


You know about WWJD, an interesting albeit questionable exercise about what Jesus would do in a given situation. Like Al Gore's forgotten answer to the question, "How will you govern the country?" "I'd ask myself, 'What would Jesus do?'" Really, Al? What hints do we get for how Jesus would respond as the president of a nation when terrorists fly aircraft into buildings? How would Jesus decide taxation rates? How much would He spend on infrastructure versus defense? Seriously, it's an interesting question, and when we have sufficient insight from Scripture as to what He would do, we should probably follow suit, but, in the final analysis, in most cases "What would Jesus drive?" is as helpful a question. That is, not at all.

Today, however, I think WSJS would be more prevalent. The question would be "What should Jesus say?" And people would be more than happy to fill in all sorts of stuff that Jesus didn't say but should have. Take, for instance, the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11). That story is thrown in our faces these days. "Jesus didn't condemn her; neither should you condemn us." It's a weak position, of course. The "condemn" in view there was "I won't be stoning you to death today." You see, "not condemn" is not what they want. In fact, these days, "not judge" is not even enough. So what should Jesus say? "Neither do I judge you; go and indulge your passions. Be yourself. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise." Ah, now, see? That would be a more acceptable, "tolerant" thing to say. Certainly not that whole "Go and sin no more" line. Bad form, Jesus, bad form.

Some like to point to His rebuke of the Pharisees. "Go and learn what this means, 'I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.' For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners." (Matt 9:13) "That's very friendly," they'll tell us, pointing at a convolution that makes no sense. Apparently God desires that we show Him mercy instead of giving Him sacrifices? No, that's not right. Oh, I know, He desires to show us mercy rather than sacrifice to us. No, wait, that can't be right either. Somehow, it seems, they have Jesus saying something more like this. "I desire to show you mercy rather than demanding sacrifice from you. I know, I know, My Father originally demanded sacrifice for sins -- lots and lots of sacrifices -- but He and I have talked it over and now we've decided that sin requires no response of justice. We just want to save everyone. Free of charge. Oh, of course, we won't save everyone. We can't, you see. Because not everyone wants to be saved. And if there's anything we value more than our own will, it's Human Free Will. But, doggone it, if we could, we'd give a free pass to sin for everyone! There! Go and learn that."

Jesus did pretty well (by today's standards) when He said, "Judge not, that you be not judged." (Matt 7:1) Of course, He messed up with the rest of the conversation. All that stuff about "First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye" (Matt 7:5) and "Do not give dogs what is holy, and do not throw your pearls before pigs, lest they trample them underfoot and turn to attack you" (Matt 7:6) and "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few" (Matt 7:13-14) and "You will recognize them by their fruits" (Matt 7:16) was way too judgmental. In this case, it would have been better if He just left that stuff out. You know, What Should Jesus not have Said?

And, look, Christianity is struggling these days. People are getting the wrong idea from all those ridiculous "fundamentalist" types -- you know, the ones that believe in the fundamentals of the faith. Christianity is being harmed by those that claim that Christianity is about taking up your cross (Matt 10:38; Matt 16:24), loving Christ more than family (Matt 10:37; Luke 14:26), that kind of thing. Way too much work. It is way too negative to tell people, "It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell." (Matt 5:30) We know that Jesus was all about peace ... until He had to go and say something like, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword." (Matt 10:34) That whole "lust equals adultery" (Matt 5:28) and "hate equals murder" (Matt 5:21-22) thing -- over the top. No, no, it's all about grace. If Jesus could just end those kinds of passages with something like, "Just kidding, guys! Oh, man, you should see your faces. I had you going for a moment there, didn't I? Whew! You almost fell for it. No, no, I embrace sin of all kinds. I want you to do whatever you want, seek your own happiness wherever you will. I am not asking for anything from you. It's okay. I'm a gracious guy and love you just the way you are. No repentance or obedience required."

But ... He didn't. He didn't say any of that. Some people think and live as if He did. And they consider themselves "followers of Christ." A travesty, really. Because followers of Christ ought to follow Christ, not make stuff up and call it "Christ". That's just ... crazy. Blindness (2 Cor 4:4). What should Jesus say? Exactly what He did. And His followers should take Him exactly at His word. Even when that's a difficult thing to take.


Bob said...

who is this Jesus that they worship? this must be a different one, than the one from the Bible. maybe they should just admit that they don't actually know HIM, much less assume to know what He would do or say.

Stan said...

Truth be told, I suppose, if you dug down and looked, this "Jesus" would be the one "just like me." Not the one of the Bible, clearly.

Craig said...

From what I can see, it's not Jesus at all. It's their own Reason covered in a thin veneer of what jesus should be.

Stan said...

"What Jesus should be" as defined primarily by "what I want Him to be to support my objectives", yes.

Stan said...

And then I read this:

"Unbelievers can tolerate Christ only as long as He is stripped of His real identity." —R.C. Sproul

Craig said...

If by Unbelievers Sproul was including those who claim to be christian but either deny God's existence or subordinate God to Reason, then he's got it nailed.

Josh said...

It seems as though most people gravitate to one side or the other. Either they are "neither do I condemn you" people, or they are "go and sin no more" people. They are "take the log out of your own eye" people, or they are "remove the speck out of your brother's eye" people. They are "mercy" people or "justice" people. They are "judge not, so that you may not be judged" people, or they are "you will recognize them by their fruits" people.

To hold all these ideas simultaneously takes a great deal of thought and practice. In fact I think it takes the work of the Holy Spirit to determine the time an place for each. How are you able to live in the tension between sides?

Stan said...

I believe you're right. I believe it takes the work of the Holy Spirit. I also believe that work is common to Jesus's disciples. So I would expect to find at least some level of unity. Generally, I do.

I usually find a nice, center line. Then, when I encounter a judgmental person, I'll suggest they need to check their own eyes and when I find a "we shouldn't judge anyone" person, I'll suggest we ought to. For those that want to come down hard on people, I'll point out, "Neither do I condemn you" and to those who suggest there is no room for seeing sin at all, I'll offer, "Go and sin no more." You know, match the message to the error.