I’m kind of fond of that pop-religious expression, “What would Jesus do?” – WWJD. I can’t remember all the times when, confronted with a moral dilemma, I asked myself that very question. And I can’t ever remember getting a wrong answer. Simplistic? Naive? You betcha, that’s me. But in reality I am much too middle class, much too worried about respectability, to ever attempt what Jesus would really do.
Looking at those habits and customs that the modern American church holds dear; respectability, responsibility, orderliness, high moral character, a good work ethic, financial independence, respect for authority, tradition and family values – I wonder how all these traits became so important among those who claim to follow Christ?
I tend to think these qualities are important as well and, when it comes to dealing with my own children, have discovered that I am a clone of my father. Attempting to relate with with my 21 year old son, I wonder why he and his generation insist upon being so confoundedly rebellious. Why doesn’t he just get it? (Just as my friends and I didn’t ‘get it’ 30 years ago). Is it because he was raised outside of the church for the first 14 years of his life? (Then what was my excuse when I was his age?)
But if someone actually followed the way of Jesus, actually did what Jesus would do, would they fit into the mold of what a good Christian should look like? For example, when we look at just a few of the many incidents in the Gospels that describe Jesus’ behavior, we can see that;
He was disrespectful of parental authority. (Luke 2: 41-50)
He disregarded established religious tradition. (John 2: 1-11)
He ignored the advice of his family and was insensitive to their feelings. (Mark 3:20-21, 31-35)
He openly criticized nationally respected religious and political leaders. (Matthew 21:32)
He was a scofflaw. (Matt 12:1-12)
He mocked religious doctrines and traditions. (Matthew 3: 4-15, )
He hung out and partied with people of ill repute. (Luke 7:34)
He and his friends were intentionally homeless and subsisted off of handouts. (Luke 9:1-5, 58)
He joined a religious ‘cult’ and then broke away, forming his own cult-like group of followers. (Luke 3:1-19, Matthew 11: 1-15)
He spoke arrogantly about his favored relationship with God. (John 8: 39-58)
He taunted the powers that be in a reckless, even suicidal fashion. (Luke 4: 28-29, Mark 11: 15-19, Mark 12:14-17, Matthew 27: 11-14)
Jesus was never respectable, never cautious, and never thrifty. He did not dress well nor did he bathe every day. He spoke his mind openly and with little regard for how others felt about it. He cared nothing for appearances and was not concerned about being seen as ‘guilty by association’. He didn’t seem to worry much about his good reputation.
He was not married, with two kids, a steady job and a mortgage. He did not support the government and was, if anything, apolitical; speaking out on issues of justice and morality that transcend politics. He certainly did not strive to be an elder or deacon of (or much less join) a local church. He was even rude to his mom and dad. Of course he didn’t act this way just to be a pain in the ass – he had good cause.
We know next to nothing about Jesus from the time he was a young adolescent until he was about thirty years old. Considering the fact that most people tend to mellow a bit with age, I wonder what he was like in his early twenties. I’ll bet he was a real pistol.
Perhaps I need to be a little more tolerant of my own son’s ‘wild and rebellious’ nature.