What would Jesus DO?

Remember when that saying first became popular?  There were bracelets and bumper stickers and signs. The funny thing is, I don’t think Jesus would have worn a bracelet, put a bumper sticker on his car or placed a sign in his yard. That’s because,

Jesus was about actions, not about words.

I wrote earlier about the woman at the well and Jesus saying, “I know all about you and I still choose to talk to you.” (You can read that post here). I’m reading Brennan Manning’s book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, and he expands on that thought saying, “Jesus didn’t just talk to “sinners,” he dined with them.”  He explains that the meal in ancient Jewish culture was sacred. It was unlawful to mingle with those outside of the law. To invite someone to your home for a meal was an invitation to enter into a relationship and relationships with the riffraff were culturally and morally forbidden.  So, for Jesus to dine with the likes of tax collectors, prostitutes and beggars, was scandalous to say the least.

But did that stop him?  No way!  Jesus said he came for the lost, the marginalized, the ones that truly needed a savior.  The religious right (Pharisees, Saducees and the like) didn’t need a savior.  Their law alone was enough to earn them a place at God’s table.

But for those that were not part of the religious elite, this acceptance and offer of friendship was Jesus saying, “You are clean, you are acceptable, you matter.”  The invitation to dine with Jesus was an invitation to friendship.  Jesus didn’t just SAY they mattered, he SHOWED them they mattered.  Manning says, “Their sinfulness, ignorance, and uncleanness had been overlooked and were no longer being held against them.”

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There was a time in my life, when I was the Pharisee, forbidden by my own “Christian” moral code to befriend the sinful riffraff of the world.  I came by it honestly.  I am a rule-follower by nature, and Sunday School taught me lots of rules to live by.  Boundaries were easy for me.  I didn’t feel the need to cross the line.  But those who did?  Well, I wasn’t too sure I could be friends with “those kinds of people.”

My mother loves to tell a story about me from when I was 6 years old.  We were moving from Minnesota to California and the night before we moved, we had dinner at their favorite Italian restaurant.  The owner knew we were moving and brought my brother and me each a candy bar and brought my parents a glass of wine.  I was horrified.  Wine was only for cooking and when you cook it all the alcohol cooks out so it’s okay to have.  I looked at my mother and said, “Oh, if only it was cooked!”

I’ve come a long way since that night!  Through years of hard times, failures and personal disappointment, I’ve come to see that now more than ever, I need the Jesus who will sit down and have a meal with me.  That Jesus who says I matter, I’m accepted, I’m loved.  He doesn’t just say he loves me, he demonstrates his love for me.

What would Jesus do…?

Well, I think if he were here in the flesh, he’d pull up a chair, pour himself a beer (or a glass of wine) and say, “How are you doing?  What’s on your mind?” And he’d hang out with me and spend time with me and make me feel like all of my failures and shortcomings just don’t matter. Even though I’d be sitting at the table with the only One who knows everything about me, he would never bring up all my faults.  He wouldn’t even be remembering those things.

So next time you’re tempted to think that what Jesus would do is shake his finger at you and remind you of all the things you failed at, think about the Jesus who ate with sinners and showed them he wanted to be their friend.  That is what Jesus would do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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