What Would Jesus Do?

November 11, 2011

Using our sorting matrix from yesterday’s post our attention turns to the center column in which the following questions are asked:

1.     What would Jesus do if he were in my shoes struggling with my place in the PCUSA?

• Jesus would appeal to his Father’s authority over all things. In communion with God, Jesus’ incarnational call would be reaffirmed and the power to fulfill it poured out upon him. He would continue to “meet” daily in quiet solitude with his Father, feed upon God’s Word, and rely on God for direction and instruction.
Lord, encourage me in your Spirit and fashion me in the image of your Son. Make me secure in your love and strengthened for your service. Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy Name.

• Jesus would speak prophetically to the wayward, the self-righteous, the institutionally entrenched; he would emphasize truth to liberals, grace to conservatives, and repentance to all, as usual.
Lord, let me not shrink from speaking the truth in love; give me courage and the knowledge of your truth, wisdom to recognize the opportunity to share it, and joy in repentance.

• Jesus would continue ministering to those who are spiritually hungry, in need of physical healing, desperate for relief from captivity, and confused about who he is.
Lord, help me to approach those in need with your love, transforming gospel, joyful freedom, and the sure knowledge of your salvation. Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.

Jesus would challenge our misguided efforts and misappropriated resources designated for gospel ministry. Lord, help me to steward your precious resources for the most faithful impact. I resist every temptation to hoard or to gather more than I can use, and make what I do possess availability to your purposes. If there is greed mixed into my motives, root it out, so that your mission can be freely supported.Give us this day our daily bread.

• Jesus would weep in lament over the church’s capacity to self-destruct with bad doctrine, open sin, and ungodly priorities.
Lord, I lament the direction this church is going and weep for those whose faith is waning as a result. Protect me from spiritual danger, and give me courage to continue as your servant among those who do not agree with me about you and your gospel. Forgive us our sin as we forgive those who sin against us.

• Jesus would do what comes naturally in the Spirit, and take the consequences as they unfold. Jesus would be unafraid of reprisals, ridicule, and retaliation; he would keep doing his work despite the pressure from temporal powers. And if those powers turned against him, he would take it without defensiveness and let the chips fall where they may. But under no condition would he renege on his promises to God, tickle the ears of the religious elite or secular culture, or give priority to his own welfare.
Lord, lead me not into temptation, but deliver me from evil.

2.     What would Jesus advise me to do in the present dilemma I face in the PCUSA?

• To everyone: Trust in God, abide in Jesus Christ, and draw upon the Spirit for life itself. Read, preach, and obey the Word of God, in season (when it’s easy) and out of season (when it’s not).

• To the Pharisees on both sides of the aisle: Jesus came not to abolish the Law but to fulfill it. “Get yourself right with me, and you will find yourself responsive not only to the letter of the Law but also the spirit of the Law.” The spirit of the Law covers the heart attitude and the mental discipline of complete submission to God’s will as differentiated from my own.

• To ministers of the PCUSA tribe: if your village is unreceptive after repeated attempts to share the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ, move on. Shake the dust off your feet and find a more receptive crowd, small group, or circle of friends to preach to. If you have exhausted the possibilities within the Presbyterian village, leave it to God’s care and go find others who are hungering and thirsting for righteousness and teach them.

• To the power-seekers: “If you want to be great, become the servant of all.” Now is not the time to assert rights we do not have, but to seek rightness with God and one another. This means being very attentive to holiness and humility, empowered by the Spirit of God.

• To “the overcomers” of Revelation 1-3: Prepare for persecution, remain steadfast in the truth, and do not compromise our faith in order to secure a comfortable and easy life. Now is not the time for lukewarm spirituality, but for passionate and radical obedience to the Way of Christ, in truth and grace.

What would happen if presbyters—from both sides of the controversies—were to exhibit the quality of heart described here? They would be people who could work together only because they were disarming their weapons under the watchful eye of our Lord.  May we seek vulnerable encounters with each other for the purpose of finding a corporate way forward, knowing full well that even in the spirit of Christ we may conclude that the differences between us may lead to separation for a higher good.

Tomorrow, the “Jesus questions” in the broader corporate context: How did Jesus advise his disciples to relate to the religious powers? What would Jesus advise congregations and councils to do in the present denominational dilemma?

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2 Responses to “What Would Jesus Do?”

  1. Jake Horner Says:

    Mary,

    “Jesus would do what comes naturally in the Spirit, and take the consequences as they unfold.”

    This puts me in mind of an insight I had several years ago that might be helpful in this time:

    If I am in the Lord’s will, then He is responsible for the consequences. He is at work in His omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence in whatever my circumstances are to accomplish His eternal purpose to sum up all things in Christ, and to conform me to His ineffable character. And by His grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit I get to participate in that process. What a privilege! And what mystery! In Christ, even when it looks as though the world is going to [the nether regions] in a hand-basket, and there is pain, yet it is well with my soul because God-the-Father-Son-and-Holy-Spirit is firmly in control of my circumstances accomplishing His goals. Or put another way: Jesus is leading me through a minefield. He never promised that a mine wouldn’t go off. I may be a bit bloodied, but if I follow Him unswervingly, He promises that I will reach the other side and He will patch me up when we get there.

    On the other hand, if I am walking my own path, then I am on my own and I am responsible for the consequences. No leadership, no promise, yet the same possibility of being bloodied. Only the potential of being “handed over” [PARADIDWMI Rom. 1:23] to what I think I want. And that, frankly, is utterly terrifying.

    JH

  2. L. Lee Says:

    Now is the time to pass on this knowledge to the next generation of leaders and teach them to be available to the Holy Spirit’s movement and to God’s word. We are in the midst of God’s movement now and there is a need for leaders for the next generation. Continue to pray that God would raise up his followers to work the field:
    “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

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