What Would Jesus Do?

Emmanuel (God with us), Jesus looked into the hearts of religious and politically powerful men and then bluntly told them what he saw: a self-absorbed and spiritually dead ruling class, betraying their Creator and the lower classes, whom they dis-ingenuously claimed they were helping. He would do the same today.

Jesus at about the age of 30 years started a ministry which crossed all ethnic barriers, eventually reaching worldwide beyond the small Roman occupied nation of Israel. He was compassionate, but firm in his desire for people to repent, seek and live the Truth of the Word in the Torah. Some of human nature, being as it is: confused, fearful, angry, and prideful, caused a spectrum of unsavory mob behavior to the level of evil at the end of Jesus’ ministry; not resembling our human creation in the image of God. In the end He willingly was nailed to the tortuous Roman cross.

Why? Because He wanted to demonstrate to us that God could defeat death. Yet in context of that miracle, He also drew out the extent to which we will go to put our trust first in human authority, safety, security, tolerance of immoral conduct in our leadership and culture, and not in the Author of the universe. And Jesus reminded us of this throughout His ministry:

  1. He turned over the tables in the temple; not because He was a socialist opposed to free trade, but because the temple was inappropriately being used as a market to sell salvation.
  2. He did not regard most of the Sadducees, Pharisees, and pompous hierarchy of the temple as representatives of God’s Word and shepherds of God’s people. In contrast, He recognized the dignity of the individual, even amongst the lowest people in society. He addressed their physical needs with the caveat to reflect on their spirit and seek out the love of God, family, and neighbor. The temple leaders responded with envy, because Jesus’ message was resonating with the common man.
  3. He was courageous in the face of the totalitarian Roman empire, but he was cautious in His response to the Pharisees’ question about honoring Roman tax versus God. He responded with a Roman coin. But what the ancients and we still don’t seem to understand is the nuance of value and lost value in centrally controlled currency. Jesus as God understood.
  4. His disciple, Saint Paul was originally Saul, persecutor of Jewish heretics and Christians and in step with tyrannical human authority, until he was confronted by Jesus on the road to Damascus. We are to believe, according to modern interpretations of Romans 13 and of Saint Paul’s life after his conversion, that his views on governing ethics were unquestionable, even under the duress of official immoral law. Really? (Scroll down in this article, “Romans 13: A Reformed View of Stateless Civil Governance” to paragraph 2 titled “The passage itself”.) The word “ordained” (or in my translation – NIV Romans 13:1 – “…there is no authority except that which God has established.”) has some deeper meaning than we are led to believe. It is important that we read and understand the context of the entire Bible, both the New and Old Testament. Focusing in on a particular passage with interpretations that are perhaps intentionally misleading to serve a secular agenda, are humanly vain, but are easily overlooked to skirt our obligations to God and each other.
  5. Jesus was Emmanuel, and was the Son of God the Father. Jesus said to know Him is to know the Father. The Father also had a clear warning for Israel in the Old Testament’s Book of Samuel and the tendency for central political power to corrupt. Israel did not heed this warning, but the Founders of America did, and George Washington refused to be made a king at the conclusion of the American revolution. Yet, just this past Friday 1-12-2024, my church leadership revisited this passage in its first reading. The following sermon, often repeated in most American churches, was once again rehashed to protect church tax status and justify their silence on the current immorality of government leadership, because it was just another necessary evil to be ignored for the “greater good”. God knows the threat of church non-profit status would not be an issue if citizens and leaders of the United States really understood and lived the First Amendment; or even less, if they had some remembrance and reliance on their fuzzy thinking regarding the phrase “Separation of Church and State”.

There are many more passages throughout the Bible that indicate God’s desire for humans to choose free will over compulsion, but one of the greatest divine gifts to mankind was that of free will. And the greatest choice for men was to love God and each other. Without free will and choice, God would know that His greatest creation was pre-programed to love Him, and men would not know the joy of love genuinely inspired from within themselves.

Knowing what we know about the faith of Christianity, why are the remaining prosperous Christians so smug in their churches and their churches so silent about the public policies that exacerbate the struggles of people on the edge? Because no one tells them of what God warned them in the Book of Samuel, except a few restless and annoying Christians who cannot withhold their concerns by just donating to the poor, accepting the status quo, and remaining silent. How about all of us helping the poor and ourselves by addressing the reasons for the absence of prosperity, rather than wringing our hands in unison with “leaders” who constantly use the poor to pad their coffers.

Anyone who has studied history, understands free market economics and dynamic free societies based in Judeo/Christian values can clearly see what immigrants from socialist/communist countries know first hand. Sadly, most Americans were purposely denied an education that warned them of the dangers of big government, because their schools were mostly public and almost all, including private schools were infiltrated by socialists.

So the next time you find yourself sitting at home half naked in your underwear complaining about the condition of our country on some social platform, consider the naked outpouring of forgiveness and love on the cross that peacefully humbled the hubris of Rome, the Temple, the world, and politically powerful men. Then get out of your comfort zone and respond to God with gratitude by exercising the loving gift of free will, and push back against the darkness of tyranny by preserving liberty.

“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” – James 2:26

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