Some time ago, people popularly wore and asked the question, “What would Jesus do?” Regarding the clothing, some said, “Jesus wouldn’t wear that!”, but a good answer to the question perhaps is more thoughtful.
The Bible gives us general principles of Jesus’s behavior, from which we might deduce what He might have done in particular cases. And, the Bible gives us what Jesus did in particular cases, from which we might induce general principles of Jesus’s behavior. But, arguments from Biblical silence equally-validly go either way.
Too often people try to recreate Jesus in their own image, imposing their own values on Him. For example, people might say that Jesus would never be mean or hurtful to people, when there are a number of examples of Jesus’s speaking to or about people who might well have misperceived His behavior as mean or hurtful: calling the Sadducees “quite wrong” for denying the resurrection (Mark 12:18-27), the impenitent “hard-hearted” (Mark 10:5), and His opponents a “brood of vipers” (Matthew 12:34), etc.
At the recent Sixth-annual Symposium in Kilgore, members of the LGBTQ+ community wrongly argued, without any Biblical principle or case in point, that Jesus would not (and so Christians should not) say or do anything that they might perceive as mean or hurtful and that Jesus would include them in His Church as they are.
We know from the Bible that God wants to include all people in His Church (1 Timothy 2:4) but only on His terms (1 Corinthians 6:9-11). Jesus died on the cross for all sinners, so that when they turn in sorrow from their sin, trust God to forgive their sin for Jesus’s sake, and want to stop sinning, then God forgives their sin, all their sin, whatever their sin might be.
Misperceived as mean or hurtful or not, Jesus sharpened the law to condemn all sins of thought, word, and deed (Matthew 5:17-48), and Jesus called all sinners to repentance (Mark 1:14-15). And, when sinners did repent, He forgave them (Mark 9:1-8). Jesus proclaimed law and gospel and would have us do the same (Luke 24:46-47).
The Rev. Dr. Jayson S. Galler is Pastor of Pilgrim Lutheran Church in Kilgore.You can reach him through the congregation’s website: www.pilgrimlc.org.