Generous Living – WWJD – A Glimpse From the DPD
This past week I watched half of the 2019 DPD - the Democratic Presidential Debates. Twenty individuals, ten candidates per evening, all vying to be the next Democratic Presidential candidate, stated their positions on several subjects in an attempt to distinguish themselves in a crowded field.
The evening I tuned in, one candidate in particular caught my attention with what he said. My interest had little to do with immigration, the economy, gun violence or police shootings; it had much to do with WWJD – What Would Jesus Do. Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, after prefacing his words with an affirmation of the separation of church and state stated, “And for a party that associates itself with Christianity, to say that it is okay to suggest that God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents, that God would condone putting children in cages, has lost all claim to ever use religious language again.” Regardless of one’s political affiliation or perspective as a Christ-follower, Buttigieg’s words point out the increasing chasm in our culture’s spiritual/religious underpinnings.
I read into Buttigieg’s comments multiple layers of meanings and implications. First, God has affirmative attributes which set a standard for how people are treated. Second, invoking the name of God, God language or God values in political or policy matters (which many advocate one shouldn’t do because not all people believe the same or even believe at all) subjects you to focused scrutiny. Interestingly, many Democratic leaders invoke religious/faith language. Thirdly, the Republican Party, as viewed by Buttigeig and I strongly suspect by many in our nation, in claiming association with Jesus is the modern equivalent of the legalistic, self-serving, Scribes and Pharisees. And finally, due to actions, policies and views of the Republican Party and the “religious right” Christianity is unfairly characterized as bankrupt and invalid.
Thus, it is so appropriate we concluded the Generous Living series this past weekend with the question, What Would Jesus Do. So, what would Jesus do? Pastor Ed outlined four areas: 1) Jesus would honestly care about people and His church; 2) Jesus would be apathetic about power, fame and ego; 3) He would get emotionally angry about bad religion, mistreatment of children and neglected justice; and 4) Jesus would recommend sacrifice for the Kingdom and for the community. This is what Jesus did and what He continues to do in this world. And in Jesus’ name, I must do the same.
We live in a complex society with serious and deep rooted problems. How to overcome these matters is a highly contentious argument. Addressing the issues and meeting the challenge as a Christ-follower, whether one is a Democrat or a Republican, living out WWJD is not only the test administered by a non-believing culture, it is who we are. My faith is personal but it is not private. Paraphrasing St. Francis of Assisi, I am called to preach and make a difference for Jesus Christ everywhere and sometimes, if necessary, do this with words.