By Joel Matthews
WWJD or “What would Jesus do?” is a personal motto made popular in the 1990’s by adherents of Evangelical Christianity, who used the phrase as a reminder of their belief in a moral imperative to act in a manner that would demonstrate the love of Jesus through the actions of the adherents. On January 19th, 2012, speaking to a significant group of social conservative leaders, gathered at the ranch of influential Southern Baptist layman and retired Texas Civil Appeals Court Judge, Paul Pressler, said, “Jesus Christ is not on the ballot so we need to come together to endorse a candidate”. So I asked myself, WWJD? Interestingly, this group ended up endorsing Rick Santorum, who when asked what he would do about Iran said, “I would bomb them…now” …WWJD? Mr. Santorum also has stated he would send troops back into Iraq…WWJD? If Jesus were among us here in the new millennium would he be concerned with running for President of the United States? The Bible states he died to save the world, not just one country.
The one account of Jesus being asked about a political issue in the 22nd chapter of Matthew, a man asked him if it was just to pay tribute to Caesar, our equivalent of taxes. His reply? Give to Caesar what is Caesars and to God what is God’s. In other, more blunt, terms he is saying pay the taxes and concern yourself with your own spiritual growth. As this is the only account of even a remotely political nature, I think Jesus was more concerned about those things of a spiritual nature. But can we make an inference to political issues based on his teachings and actions? How about immigration and “illegal” aliens? Would Jesus search them out and deport them, incarcerate them, build walls, electric fences or even shoot them, simply because they haven’t signed a paper and recited the Pledge of Allegiance?
Further down in the same passage of scripture the same group of men who had asked about taxes also asked Jesus what the greatest commandment was. He replied “To love the Lord thy God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind…and the second is like the first, You are to love your neighbor as yourself.” WWJD? To love your neighbor as yourself, do you pledge your allegiance to your neighbors before you enter their house? Do you require them to sign a paper before they enter yours? Do you throw them out if they’re not rooting for your team in the “big game”. If they dress “funny? If they don’t vote the way you do? If they speak a different language? If their skin is a different color? Love your neighbor as yourself. Does the term “your neighbor” only extend to the person next door, across the street, in the same city, state or country? WWJD? Jesus extended his love to the entire world when he died.
How about the issue of heath care? Specifically the repeal of “Obamacare”. The scriptures record over 40 miracles performed by Jesus. All but a handful were to heal the sick or crippled or to raise the dead. It appears that Jesus was in favor of “healthcare”. He physically healed all those who crossed his path and asked it of him. Why would he do such a thing? Why not just call a healing meeting for all of the sick and crippled within a community? I submit that when in direct contact he was overcome with compassion. Should we not try our best to do the same today? Provide healthcare when people need it? Opponents object to the provision requiring everyone to subscribe to an insurance plan. Yet can any of them categorically state that they will never need the use of the healthcare system of this country at some point before they die or at the very least when they die? It is those very people who access the healthcare system with an inability to pay that cause overall costs to rise and exacerbate the problem of the system’s ability to care for all.
The very 1st Amendment to our Constitution articulates the concept of the separation of “religion and government”. We should be learning from the violence we continue to see taking place in the Middle East. When one single religious belief system controls the government, sectarianism is practiced to an extreme and violence ensues. Jesus showed no interest in aspiring to an earthly political position of power in his time. He instead chose to teach, educate and heal those who chose to follow and listen to him. Those who try to bring their religious beliefs into the political realm today should take note and do the same.