Over the last year or so, I’ve taken to using #WWJD when tweeting responses to ridiculous, hateful political things I read online. For those of you who don’t know, it stands for What Would Jesus Do? It was a thing a few years ago, perhaps a way for the faithful to encourage one another to make the right choices, or maybe for some self-righteous people it was a way to condescend to the less pious. Either way, it was memorable and to the point.
So, when I see people post with approval some of the terrible things conservative politicians say that are the exact opposite of what a loving, caring, benevolent person (like Jesus) would do, I find that #WWJD is a good thing to bring back up. And yes, I use it somewhat to be snarky but also to try to do the first thing I said above – to remind folks who claim to be Christian that the thing they support (like, say, presidential candidates unanimously saying “no” to Syrian refugees), is actually, most likely NOT the thing that Jesus would do.
One of my best and oldest friends asked me recently why I do what I do; that is, why I choose to be active in civic engagement and political discourse and, many times, outspoken on things I care about. I told him the answer is simple: I do it because I believe that my job as a Christian (or simply as someone who cares about my fellow humans) is to stand up for justice and be a voice for those who might need one. I’ve always felt that it is the duty of good, loving people to speak out for those who are the victims of injustice or suffering of any sort, and if possible, to fight at the highest levels for public policies that protect those who are most vulnerable from those who are most powerful. And even though my father is a retired Southern Baptist preacher, I am no theological scholar (and have even strayed to the United Methodist Church). But any kid who was dragged to Sunday School every week growing up ought to remember that, above all, God is love. And while Jesus walked the Earth, he was probably more of a Bernie Sanders (speaking out against the rich and comfortable and self-righteous while standing alongside the poor, huddled masses, including refugees and outcasts (not sure if he waved his hands around when he spoke)) than a Ted Cruz (trumpeting his religiosity for the sake of political gain while spewing hate towards poor people and immigrants).
Given my recent use of #WWJD, I was inspired by a great post by Stephen Mattson over at the Sojourners blog. His title says it all: Social Justice is a Christian Tradition, Not a Liberal Agenda. Here’s a blurb:
Many Christians are wary of participating in social justice because of a deep-rooted fear of being labeled “liberal,” “progressive,” or “secular.” They don’t want to be associated with “secular” movements, and are uncomfortable delving into issues that go beyond their cultural comfort zones.
But the Bible tells us that Jesus cared deeply about the social causes around him. …
He intentionally, purposefully, and passionately addressed very specific causes. He radically addressed the diverse and complicated conflicts of the time and shattered the status quo. …
That’s why the New Testament goes into great depth detailing the newfound worth given to the Gentiles, slaves, and women. These countercultural instructions to believers were radically progressive, to the point where the gospel writers had to put them in writing to make sure they were implemented within the newly formed church. …
By acknowledging and actively participating in the #blacklivesmatter movement, addressing racism, immigration, gender equality, and a litany of other issues, you are following in the steps of Jesus.
And here’s the link again. Peace be with you.