|Fall foilage on campus of Lynchburg College (Lynchburg, VA) Nov 2010|
The above verses were part of this past Sunday's lectionary study. Our pastor reminded us of how we neglect to focus on the last verses of Luke 21; a final exclamation of optimism that all to often is ignored.
In reflecting on this idea, I began to think about how a certain man was persecuted and ultimately put to death because of his teachings regarding commitment to his fellow man, the advancement of peace and God's gracious forgiving love.
We've all seen or heard about those WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelets. I wonder if we're not asking the wrong question. Would WWYD (What Would You Do?) be more appropriate?
'What Would You Do?' Say you were approached tomorrow by someone with a radically intriguing spiritual presence; a presence like none you'd ever encountered before. What if you were asked to give up your life and follow this person, becoming a close confidant? What if this person became your mentor? What if you began to feel a strong personal commitment or spiritual connection to this new person in your life?
Soon your friends, neighbors, acquaintances and co-workers begin to question what it is that you see in this person you look up to and admire. Snickers and behind your back whispers eventually turn into public ridicule and personal attacks upon your judge of character and overall reputation. You're warned that your association with this person jeopardizes your job, your family, everything you hold dear. Even family members begin to question your reasoning for hanging around with someone who dares to question the status quo.
Although your mentor is gaining a devoted following and becoming a topic of conversation throughout the community, authorities and power brokers are beginning to public condemn and privately threaten your mentor with violence. Would you speak out in defense of your friend or would you publicly deny your friend to save your own skin?
Would a man named Jesus fair any different today than he did 2000 years ago? WWYD? Sadly, I think he'd meet the same fate today as he did then.
We must act with endurance against the ridicule and persecution today just as Jesus' followers, his disciples, did then.
Jesus' teaching of peace, love and promise of gracious forgiveness is the optimism we must strive to hold on to in a broken world; a world working to bring us down. The world bringing us down thrives on us living out a life of pessimism and fear, but we have a choice.
As Christians we should already know the answer to the question of WWJD.
The question that needs to be asked is WWYD?
PS- BOOK RECOMMENDATION ALERT: 'Sacred Compass: The Way of Spiritual Discernment', by J. Brent Bill.