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A FEW Questions for Christians...
Yellow Times

''What would Jesus do?''
Printed on Wednesday, March 05, 2003 @ 14:08:31 EST ( )

By Raff Ellis
YellowTimes.org Columnist (United States)

(YellowTimes.org) - What would Jesus do, a slogan more popularly known as WWJD, has evolved as a popular mantra among Evangelical Christians to be invoked whenever confronting a dilemma. Most people have probably heard the campaign phrase, "What would Jesus drive?" which emphasizes the notion that Christ should be at the heart of daily decision-making, including environmental issues such as fuel efficiency. This campaign has come in for its share of derision by comedians and commentators, and I believe prejudicially so. Those who believe that Scripture is the inerrant word of God should certainly be allowed to choose to make Jesus the focal point of their lives.

Everyone, wittingly or not, follows some philosophy of life, but adhering to that philosophy without being hypocritical is a challenge that is often unmet. Witness the many illogical statements by "born again" politicians and clergymen (who claim to speak for Jesus) that are echoed in the mainstream media without question. Such people seem to feel they are not bound by the rules of logic.

Pointing out an absence of consistency or twisting of Scripture for personal gain or political advantage seems not to be fair game in today's world. How many times have you watched a press conference and squirmed while waiting for a reporter to ask the pungent question or press the salient point that will expose the illogic of the speaker? Alas, it never seems to come. Reporters seem to be cowed, perhaps by the fear of being not invited to future press conferences should they embarrass a government official, or worse, betray their company's party line (a good way to lose your job). The enemies list, a hallmark of the Nixon administration, is alive and well and has been embraced by a cabal of Beltway politics and corporate America.

For those bible thumpers who simultaneously claim that Jesus changed their lives, and plead the case for war in Iraq, I have to ask, "What would Jesus do?" He would probably say, "Blessed are the peacemakers," or has that beatitude become obsolete? Has the Christian virtue of "turn the other cheek" been replaced with "kick the other's ass"?

Old Testament vengeance seems to have superceded New Testament peacemaking even though the "new covenant" was supposed to supplant the "old covenant." It used to be that Christians were instructed to change their hearts from the old examples of a wrathful God to the benevolence towards humankind that Jesus preached. Yet, many who claim to preach Jesus' word or to have been converted by his example seem only interested in Old Testament style revenge.

So, what would Jesus do about this in today's world? If he were to reappear today, complete with flowing robes, sandals and halo, ala Renaissance paintings, would anybody believe him? What, if anything, would he be driving? Or would he be chauffeured around in a limo by one of his apostles? Sounds silly, doesn't it? Chances are if he did reappear, there would be scientific debate about the "holographic halo," theological debate about false prophets, and a Justice Department investigation showing that his temporary visa had expired. Once his Palestinian origins were discovered, he would certainly qualify for Minister Ashcroft's terrorist list or one of his secret jails. In any event, I don't think Jesus would fit in with today's militaristic, materialistic American society.

However, if I were at the press conference, before they took him away, in the spirit of WWJD, these are the questions I would ask.

1. Do you think war with Iraq is?

a. Morally justified
b. Justified by our lack of patience
c. Justified because they "tried to kill" GW's dad
d. Avoidable through diplomatic means

2. Jesus, which country would you attack first?

a. Iraq
b. Iran
c. North Korea
d. None of the above

3. Which firearm would you prefer to give your apostles?

a. M16
b. Uzi
c. Kalashnikov
d. None of the above

4. Which missiles or bombs would you have your forces drop on civilians?

a. Cruise
b. Daisycutter
c. Hellfire
d. None of the Above

If you think all the answers should be d., then you are in conflict with the religious right and their peace loving, Christ on his sleeve representative in the White House. Makes one think John H. Schaar had it right when he said, "A fundamentalist is someone who hates sin more than he loves virtue."

Writing about religious beliefs arouses deep, if not irrational, passions in people. As an example, I recently received the following note from a devout (?) Christian:

Why don't you write about your Islamic brothers who follow the beliefs of the Murdering, Child Molester, so called prophet, Mohammed who believed all infidels (translated means Christians) should be killed. How can you worship a religion (not) like Islam and call yourself a decent human being? I pray to Jesus Christ, our one and only path to everlasting salvation, that one day you will see the error in your ways.

I have seen the error and it is in the intolerance expressed in such vituperation. Although the writer incorrectly assumes I am of the Muslim faith, I afford it the same respect that I do all religions. I would suggest that this person and others like him reread the Gospels, in particular the passage from Matthew (5:43-44):

Ye have heard that it hath been said; thou shalt love thy neighbor, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.

Instead of wondering what would Jesus do, I'd recommend that those true believers follow the examples laid down in their bibles, first and foremost. I heartily recommend, Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

The rest, I think, should take care of itself.

[Raff Ellis lives in the United States and is a retired former strategic planner and computer industry executive. He has had an abiding and active interest in the Middle East since early adulthood and has traveled to the region many times over the last 30 years.]

Raff Ellis encourages your comments:  rellis@YellowTimes.org

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