Monday, June 8, 2015

"Just Thoughts"--What Would Jesus Do?

Just Thoughts: What Would Jesus Do?

[Here is the "Just Thoughts" column for St. Mary's bulletin--June 14, 2015]

In 1896 Charles Sheldon wrote a book entitled “In His Steps.” The subtitle of the book was “What Would Jesus Do?” This book grew out of a series of sermons Sheldon gave in his Congregational Church in Topeka, Kansas. The book, and the concept behind it, had a powerful impact on many people hoping to shape the world according to the words and actions of Jesus. Of course, it isn’t always so simple or straightforward to know what Jesus would do in a 21st Century context. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try.

It is very useful to try to ask what Jesus would do when justice is at stake. Sometimes the answer becomes stunningly clear:

What would Jesus do when so many people in Painesville go hungry. Well, he’d find a way to feed them! He’d work to change laws and social structures so that no one goes hungry.

What would Jesus do when 100 homeless people are out in the cold and snow on a January night  in Painesville? Why, he would find a way to give them a warm and respectable shelter! He’d find an approach to ending homelessness in the world’s richest country.

What would Jesus do when foreigners and immigrants are despised or discriminated against? Well, that one is easy. He gave us the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:29-37). He commanded us to love our neighbors, love the foreigner, as we love ourselves. Both the Old and New Testaments call for generosity, kindness, and hospitality for the foreigner. So we know clearly what Jesus would do.

Thinking about “What Would Jesus Do” can help us build a fairer, more just society--the New Jerusalem. The Beloved Community. Many people at St. Mary’s keep “WWJD” in mind when they make and serve the Karpos meals for the homeless and hungry every Wednesday and Thursday evenings; when they open the St. Mary’s Warming Center on bitter cold winter nights; when they visit the sick, the lonely, the homebound; when they bring comfort and the Eucharist to those in the Lake County jail. These and other actions, not so public, that serve our fellow human beings the way Jesus did.

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