Yesterday I watched videos of 2 black men who were killed by police officers. I woke up this morning to the news out of Dallas of 5 dead police officers, and 7 others injured. There have been postings, statements, and symbols put up all over my newsfeed and I just keep asking myself this exact same, simple question again and again. What would Jesus do?
For the past year I have been in deep study of the life of Jesus. Throughout this process, his enlightenment through the life he lived and his words have become more real to me than any other point in my forty years of knowing him. Digging in deeply to his world not only exposes us to the culture he faced, but opens us up to new ideas and how he stood differently in a very difficult time in this world. As I look to him this morning, I am drawn specifically to three ways in which I believe Jesus would be doing right now in America.
The first thing Jesus always did, and yes, he always did this, was to turn everyone to look to the Father. He spoke of God’s love and strength, and often specifically of his personal mission being sent to be part of our world. He rallied everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, around the idea of loving God and loving each other. This is particularly applicable in what he did in the story of Lazarus, which is an amazing moment in the life of Jesus.
We don’t know a ton about Lazarus. We know he was the brother of Mary and Martha, and he must have been a pretty iconic figure in his time. Crowds of people are sobbing, mourning the death of this beloved man. What’s most fascinating about this story, however, is how Jesus is engaged with the men who are soon going to be orchestrating his capture, joke of a trial, and public murder. In other words, Jesus is standing in the middle of a bunch of people who are fighting against the freedom and love he continues to throw out to anyone who will receive it. Jesus doesn’t care about the culture’s standards and the “way we do things around here”. What he cares about is bringing people into love, hope and a new purpose. When Jesus sees the heartbreak of EVERYONE around him, what does he do? What are the actions of Jesus?
In our world today everyone is looking for answers to these problems, and frankly, if we really want to be like Jesus, there three things we must do. First, we need to direct anyone who will listen to us to the Father. We need to provide our world the hope, love and purpose to be found in having a personal relationship with God. This is our most urgent calling. In the story of Lazarus, we discover what tow things Jesus did in times such as this.
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled. And he said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. John 11:34-35
Jesus mourns with those who mourn. Not only is he broken for what has happened to his friend Lazarus, but he is also “deeply troubled” for grief of those around him, including the group of Jews who will go to the Pharisees at the end of this chapter, and tell them everything he has done. We see at the end of John 11 the beginnings of the plans to have Jesus put to death. But they weren’t just going to kill Jesus because he mourned.
The third and final act of Jesus was to heal. “Lazarus, come out!” The man who died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
Jesus told us by God’s power, and the power of the Holy Spirit living in us, we will do greater things than he did. I know many of you will laugh at this, but I’m not laughing, and neither should you. First, we have to understand we can’t do anything if we are afraid. Fear will bind us like the linen strips they wrapped around the dead back in Jesus’ day, and our world doesn’t need Christians who are afraid, silent and making excuses while they stand on the sideline. While everyone is busy trying to figure out the answers to these problems, Jesus has shown us exactly what we are to do. Basically, if we say we love Jesus, than our mission now, and this is our mission more than ever, is to point this world to the Father, mourn with those who are mourning, and to heal. Whether the Holy Spirit will empower you to actually heal someone through your actions is up to God and your faith in Him, but we know your words can bring healing. We know your humility and passion to protect those who need protection the most can bring healing. We know being a voice of truth, love and wisdom can be a powerful healing tool.
Jesus wasn’t afraid when Lazarus died. He didn’t hide. Even though some of his closest followers were blaming him for not taking action and getting to Lazarus sooner, Jesus still followed God’s plan for him, knowing what he was going to do now would be so much greater than anyone could imagine. Jesus had this kind of faith in God. He knew God could save his friend, and we need to be of this exact mindset when we think about our country. Too often I read about Christians who feel overwhelmed and don’t know who to vote for, how to respond, or what to do. Yet, the scriptures, and specifically the life of Jesus, never leave us confused. We know exactly the plans God has for us, because he lays them out clearly in his word.
I’ve been saying for months it is time for those who love, know, and obey Jesus to stand up and lead in our culture, and frankly, we can’t wait any longer. We need to speak up now, because if we don’t, the wrong people will speak for you, and that’s the last thing we need in America. Right? Haven’t we been called the Conservative Christians for quite long enough? Haven’t we been labeled by the media on their terms, and not our own? If we don’t speak up, eventually we will lose our voice entirely, and be shouting into the wind.
Point them to the Father. Mourn. And heal. These are the staples of the life of Jesus, and what we must do as Christians today. Don’t be afraid to follow Jesus, my friends. God is for you. He is for everyone.