What Would Jesus Do?

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This is such a common phrase that it now shows up on jewelry, t-shirts, license plates, and coffee mugs.

It is supposed to associate whomever is wearing or using or driving the WWJD thing with a certain Christian mindset. That mindset is summarized in these verses from Philippians 1: 1-5

If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies, fulfil ye my joy, that ye be like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.  Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:

In other words, model your daily behavior on your best understanding of how Jesus would have behaved if He was in the same situation.

This post is based on a blog post I read from John Pavlovitz. He is calling a specific set of Christians out because he believes that they are hypocrites. He bases his comments on his belief that it is his responsibility as an evangelical Christian to act in the same way he felt Jesus would act. He definitely has a point of view that some may not agree with, but I think his questions regarding the politics of White Evangelicals are valid.

First the facts.

Obama won 26% of the White Evangelical vote in 2008 and 21% in 2012. 81% of White Evangelicals voted for Trump in 2016. That in itself is just politics. White Evangelicals were originally mobilized by Jimmy Carter. Reagan and the Republican Party quickly recruited them, however, and they have been reliable conservative voters ever since.

This post raises questions about the differences between their political positions and their principles.

During his term in office, Obama was relentless demonized by conservative TV, media, and on the Internet. They claimed he was a Muslim. The claimed he wasn’t a natural born citizen. Scriptures were used to malign him and associate him with the worst racial stereotypes.

Through it all he didn’t retaliate. He remained a faithful husband, a good father, with no hint of personal or political scandal. He tried to work with those that opposed him, even after they said that their highest priority was to prevent his re-election. According to the NYT, he told 18 lies during his term in office.

Here’s how John Pavlovitz characterized the treatment Obama received from White Evangelicals.

And through it all, White Evangelicals—you never once suggested that God placed him where he was,
you never publicly offered prayers for him and his family,
you never welcomed him to your Christian Universities,
you never gave him the benefit of the doubt in any instance,
you never spoke of offering him forgiveness or mercy,
your evangelists never publicly thanked God for his leadership,
your pastors never took to the pulpit to offer solidarity with him,
you never made any effort to affirm his humanity or show the love of Jesus to him in any quantifiable measure.

You violently opposed him at every single turn—without offering a single ounce of the grace you claim as the heart of your faith tradition. You jettisoned Jesus as you dispensed damnation on him.

Now we have Trump. He is an admitted adulterer. In at least one case, it was allegedly with a porn star. He is working on his third marriage. He uses language in public that would not be accepted in any Evangelical Church or home. He bragged about committing sexual assault. He supported an accused pedophile because he said he needed another Republican in the Senate. He supported White Supremacists and Neo-Nazi’s. He has lied about his charitable contributions. In fact according to the NYT, he broke all recent records by telling 103 lies during his first year in office. Through all of it he is a braggart, unrepentant, and unapologetic.

Here’s how John Pavlovitz describes the treatment Trump has received from White Evangelicals.

And the change in you is unmistakable. It has been an astonishing conversion to behold: a being born again.

With him, you suddenly find religion.
With him, you’re now willing to offer full absolution.
With him, all is forgiven without repentance or admission.
With him you’re suddenly able to see some invisible, deeply buried heart.
With him, sin has become unimportant, compassion no longer a requirement.
With him, you see only Providence.

I think the question is valid.

What is the reason for this vastly different treatment between these two very different men? You would think that in terms of personal values, Obama’s life is MUCH closer to the lives that Evangelicals try to lead. At least on the surface, Trump seems to represent most everything in his personal live that Evangelics despise. But that doesn’t seem to have counted for much.

There are only a couple of possible answers.

If Obama committed any great sin in the eyes of White Evangelicals, it was his support of woman’s right to choose regarding abortion. If that one reason can justify standing quietly on the sidelines while an otherwise good man is vilified, then I would question how abortion became more important than helping the hungry, the thirsty, the poor, the sick, the stranger, and the imprisoned. But that’s just me.

It also sounds a lot like the parable Jesus told of the Good Samaritan. All of the self-righteous men ignored the wounded person by the side of the road. It was only the Samaritan, the group that was vilified by the Jews, who did the right thing.

But it still raises the following question. If the “sin” of being pro-choice justified silence, does a pro-life stand excuse all other behavior? If so, then we are truly in Pharisee territory.

Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.  Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Matt:23:24-25

Or maybe it was because Obama was a liberal Democrat, or perhaps because he had dark skin.

If so, then John Pavlovitz is correct is pointing out what other people see in the White Evangelical’s slavish support of Trump.

They see that pigmentation and party are your sole deities.
They see that you aren’t interested in perpetuating the love of God or emulating the heart of Jesus.
They see that you aren’t burdened to love the least, or to be agents of compassion, or to care for your Muslim, gay, African, female, or poor neighbors as yourself.
They see that all you’re really interested in doing, is making a God in your own ivory image and demanding that the world bow down to it.
They recognize this all about white, Republican Jesus—not dark-skinned Jesus of Nazareth.

What would Jesus say about this?

I’m not qualified to say. I believe the Bible reserves judgement for God, so I try not to judge others. Besides, I’ve got way too much to do working out my own issues in hopes of my own salvation.

But for those whose faith includes a commitment to share the good word with others, here’s my own little bit of evangelizing. I suggest that White Evangelicals take these questions to heart. Ponder them. Chew on them. They may be bitter at first, but God had to knock Paul off his horse and blind him in order to get his attention.  Paul thought he WAS doing the work of God in killing Christians.  It was only after his conversion that he discovered his TRUE calling – spreading the good news of the Christ.  It was Paul, and not the other disciples, who saw that the good news of the Christ was meant for everyone, not just Jews.  It is certainly possible that, just like with Paul, Trump is the God’s way of forcing White Evangelicals to choose between politics and principle.  The blessing that lies beyond that choice could be healing the political and cultural divides that currently seem so insurmountable.

Above all, I encourage White Evangelicals to sincerely pray for guidance. It is possible that it isn’t all about abortion. There are many evangelical leaders who have already come to that conclusion. If it’s true that Jesus called us to a broader commitment to be like him in many ways, I would hate to face the judgement that Evangelicals preach about with opposition to abortion as my only good deed.

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.

Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Matt 25:31-43

 

10 Responses to “What Would Jesus Do?”

  1. Keith says:

    My answer is simple though there is so much to say about the above. Jesus did place President Obama as president. Every church I attended during his term DID pray for him. I now attend a very large 10,000 plus black church and they do pray for Trump. My life experience rarely meets your canned view of the world. In fact it’s usually exactly opposite.

    Jesus would not be swayed either by President Obama or President Trump. He would merely continue on His way teach about the “Kingdom of God.”

    For me, I am not surprised or shocked by Trumps sin. Yours would not surprise me either. “All have sinned, all have fallen short of the Kingsom of God.” What I am always a bit surprised by is those who glory in identifying others sins. No Jeff, you and I can not pick up a stone to cast at anyone. However when voting we have to choose a side. In this case, 2016, we had two terrible choices. However one would do more of what I would like then the other. So far it’s been as I hoped.

    Jesus, would weap for all our sins but invites us to everlasting life with Him. John 3:16

  2. Jeff Beamsley says:

    My answer is simple though there is so much to say about the above. Jesus did place President Obama as president. Every church I attended during his term DID pray for him. I now attend a very large 10,000 plus black church and they do pray for Trump. My life experience rarely meets your canned view of the world. In fact it’s usually exactly opposite.

    I am simply reporting the fact that a voice in the White Evangelical community is calling out other White Evangelicals for what he perceives are their hypocrisies.

    I’m happy to hear that black Evangelical churches are praying for Trump. No one is questioning their priorities.

    The facts are the White Evangelicals are some of Trump’s most reliable supporters.

    The question is how do they square the circle with their vocal support of Trump, when they were so quiet during the Obama administration?

    I don’t think that you have answered that question.

    I’m not particularly interested in blaming anyone.

    Just seeking understanding.

  3. Jeff Beamsley says:

    BTW, Here’s what Michael Steele, a Catholic who once studied to be a priest, and past chairman of the Republican Party had to say about White Evangelical support for Trump.

    And the fact of the matter is, when you have spent the better part of 30 years telling the American people, as I said, how to behave, what to think, who to love, who not to love, what to do, what not to do, you’re wrong, condemn you, judge you. And now you’re going to come back because this man, the president, has given you a tax cut or a Supreme Court justice that you like, none of that matters when you find out that, while his wife was pregnant with his child, he was having an affair with a porn star. That did not just end once the child was born, but continued long afterwards. And yet you’re going to give a mulligan for that.

    So I want Tony Perkins and others to give a mulligan to all those people that they condemned over the last 30 years. Where’s their mulligan? And if you’re going to be in the business of making these kinds of judgments, because I think the last place you need to be is in a place of judgment, ’cause the Lord said, “Thou shalt not judge,” you know? That’s not our role, that’s not our role. But if you want to go there, then check your hypocrisy. Because for me, it’s about being true to the Gospels, and certainly being true to yourself. …

  4. Keith says:

    And Blacks are 95% supportive of Democrats. Therefore it stands to reason a very large portion of black evangelicals are the same. A black pastor could write the very same book calling out Black evangelicals mentioning homosexual marriage, abortion, the dependence of urban blacks on the government and not God, etc. I simply don’t identify nor do I care about identity politics. I don’t chop up people into groups. This is what must stop.

  5. Jeff Beamsley says:

    And Blacks are 95% supportive of Democrats. Therefore it stands to reason a very large portion of black evangelicals are the same. A black pastor could write the very same book calling out Black evangelicals mentioning homosexual marriage, abortion, the dependence of urban blacks on the government and not God, etc. I simply don’t identify nor do I care about identity politics. I don’t chop up people into groups. This is what must stop.

    If would be a valid question if Black Evangelicals supported a Democratic version of Trump because he passed some major poverty reduction legislation. Clinton came close on the subject of adultery, but he ultimately confessed, apologized, and asked for forgiveness. We haven’t seen any of that behavior from Trump. Clinton also was the guy who did away with welfare.

    Black Evangelicals could also set themselves up for criticism if they failed to treat Trump with compassion, but as you’ve indicated, that isn’t the case.

    This isn’t identity politics.

    This is a valid question which you continue to refuse to answer.

    Why did White Evangelicals treat Obama differently than they treated Trump?

    BTW, the reason that it is a valid question is that White Evangelicals have been outspoken regarding identity politics. THEY have been critical of lifestyle choices. They have been critical of marriage equality, sexual preference, and gender neutral bathrooms. They have been the ones who insisted that their rights to religious freedom extended into the workplace. If that is all true and their deeply held beliefs support their request for “special” treatment, then why did they not show Obama the same compassion, forgiveness, and brotherly love reflecting their deeply held beliefs that they have shown Trump?

  6. Keith says:

    You’re use of the word Christian my be different then mine.
    As to the rest of your comment I suggest you reread what I wrote.

    Of all the comments about last night’s state of the union I found this one the funniest. If true even funnier.
    http://dailycaller.com/2018/01/31/wapo-changes-trumps-sotu-headline-after-liberals-freak-out/

  7. Keith says:

    What do the following statements have in common?

    The state of the union is strong
    2.4 million new jobs
    45 year low unemployment
    Stock market setting records
    African American unemployment lowest in record
    Mexican American unemployment lowest ever
    More take home pay in most people paycheck
    Apple plans to invest 350 billions n
    Exon Moble investing 50
    FDA approved more drugs and devices
    MS13 members being sent home
    Nearly 100% of territory held by ISIS now taken back.
    In God we trust

    All things democrats refused to applaud or stand for last night. Real divisive statements don’t you think?

  8. Jeff Beamsley says:

    Of all the comments about last night’s state of the union I found this one the funniest. If true even funnier.
    http://dailycaller.com/2018/01/31/wapo-changes-trumps-sotu-headline-after-liberals-freak-out/

    Not a big fan of the DailyCaller. That said, newspapers change their headlines all the time. Whether this particular change was the result of negative twitter feedback is something someone will need to take up with headline editors at the WashPost.

    In that same paper, the WaPost editorial board called the speech divisive.

  9. Keith says:

    Analysis | Fact-checking the 2018 State of the Union address – The Washington Post
    https://apple.news/Ag1yC3u0FRoe2Au-F20zmGw

    It’s interesting to read this. Trump was a little optimistic on a couple. It notice what the fact checker did. He framed the statement through his own version of what Trump said. Perfect example is what he said about job creation. Trump clearly said “since the election” the fact checker clear removes trumps words, goes to since he was sworn in and calls him a liar. Is this fake news. This example is repeated several times by the fact checker in the link from the Post. The mainstream medias job is to call oppose trump and repeatedly discredit him to the public. This is why 91% of the folks are getting tax cuts but polling shows 80%, or whatever the number was, that tax cut were only for the wealthy. The reason because the mainstream media told them so.

    More evidence? He score 30 out of 30 on the cognitive test HE REQUESTED. The mainstream media did its best to convince everyone he was mentally unfit for office.

    Last night speech was pretty good 75%, granted many Dems could bring themselves to watch, of those who watched thought so. All mainstream media immediately after the speech ripped it.

  10. Keith says:

    Monmouth Poll: Trump sees uptick in approval rating – CNN Politics
    https://apple.news/A6fWuTSk4S36K5FP5T6HN0g

    Only one poll and only one day.

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