As we enter the Christmas holiday season, it would be helpful to remind ourselves what Jesus did while he walked the earth and what he promoted while he was here. Variations of his overarching themes can also be found in other religious texts, so these tenets are important regardless of religion. His Golden Rule which paraphrases to Treat others like you want to be treated translates well to any religious faith.
Jesus spent most of his adult life with the disenfranchised people of the areas he traveled. He would visit and stay with those who were not the powerful leaders or church leaders of the day. He tended to be with those who needed him most – the sick, the disabled, the poor and the downtrodden. In fact, he was not welcome by church leaders in some places and became irritated when church leaders did not use his church for its key purpose.
If Jesus walked the earth today, he would likely be irritated with us for many things.
- Jesus would not be too keen on the demonization of people who look, speak or worship differently than the speaker.
- He would not be too keen on intolerance especially when advocated by religious leaders who preach a message of exclusion. Jesus welcomed everyone.
- He would not be too keen on the commercialization of his birthday, which loses sight of why we are honoring the day in the first place.
- He would not be too keen on treating the impoverished in the world as if they had a communicable disease. “There, but by the grace of God, go I” he would say.
- He would not be too keen on turning our backs on people who are refugees from their war-torn land. He would be there welcoming them in.
- He would not be too keen on people being killed in the name of any religion, especially when the perpetrators are twisting language from its true meaning.
- He would not be too keen on abortion unless a mother’s life is threatened. And, while this may sound inconsistent, he would likely be in favor of using birth control to avoid abortions, lessen poverty and prevent the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases.
- He would not be too keen on the prosperity church leaders who live high on the hog after bilking poor and sick people of their money. If you hear the term “seed money,” understand you are being swindled to help someone buy a jet or house.
- He would not be too keen on corrupt leaders who forsake their mission to govern wisely and judiciously.
- He would not be too keen on people not being good stewards of our earth which is consistent across many religions.
We seem to have become a collection of cafeteria Christians, only picking parts of the bible we like and missing the overall context and message. We must treat others like we want to be treated, with no caveats. To prove my point, I want you to picture a mental image of Jesus and then go back to the first bullet point above regarding “demonization of people who look….differently than the speaker.”
Now, I want you to picture an adult Syrian refugee. Jesus did not look like Max Von Sidow, Jim Caviezel or Jeffrey Hunter (who played him in movies). Jesus looked more like the Syrian refugees look than how movies portrayed him. And, he did not speak English. If Jesus was among the refugees, we have folks who would be arguing to deny his entrance into America as he would be a single adult male with a mideastern appearance.
We must be better than this. We must understand his key message and live like he would want us to, even if he does not look like we do. It is the Christian thing to do….and Jewish, Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Buddhist thing as well.