What Would Jesus Do In The 21st Century?
WWJD in today’s world? If Jesus Christ was alive today, how would he handle where we currently find ourselves?
Growing up in the fundamentalist Christian Church, I constantly experienced this question. “WWJD” was worn on bracelets, shirts, and seen on stickers all over the congregation. This phrase was preached and taught as some sort of doctrinal question to which we were expected to have a pretty good answer. In the church, “What Would Jesus Do?” was often treated as way of pointing out a “wrong” instead of identifying actual practical steps.
In other words: if a person was seen treating others disrespectfully, our “church leaders” would ask us to consider “What would Jesus do?”
When we were not spending enough of our mental energy focused on converting others to the Lord, we were asked “What would Jesus do?”
Constantly, we were asked to be “Christlike”. Supposedly, judging our actions against “What would Jesus do?” was said to be a surefire way to achieve this goal. In the youth groups where I grew up, achieving this goal of being “Christlike” was seen as an incredibly admirable quality.
According to the church, I actually did a pretty good job! When I was about eleven years old, I was voted “Most Christ Like” for the year in our Upwards Christian Basketball league. I received the “White Star Award” trophy which is currently collecting some dust in my parent’s attic. In general, this is how the question of “What Would Jesus Do?” was treated: it was some sort of prize to be achieved.
What WOULD Jesus Do?… For Real.
Asking what Jesus or any great historical figure would “do” is a powerful exercise. You see, here is where Chris tian churches seem to miss out: they rarely actually put critical thought into what Jesus would actually do based on the “real” examples we have in the Bible of Jesus actually doing things. If we take the Bible as an accurate representation of Jesus’ life (or, at least, the character of Jesus), we can gain some valuable insights about what Jesus would actually do if he were alive today.
Why is it a good idea to ask “What Would Jesus Do?” If we are approaching this question more strategically and philosophically, why is this even a valid question? Why should you (especially if you have no relationship to Christianity) even care?
Well, consider the impact of the character of Jesus.
Whether he is “real” or not, the impact of Jesus on our world cannot be denied. In his name, popes have launched crusades. Presidents have been elected. Inquisitions have been pursued. Televangelists have been made wealthy. Lives have been changed for the good. Marriages have been saved. Politics are affected. Christians have been killed by lions in Rome. Little boys like me have spent countless hours in various churches across the world, asking themselves “What would Jesus do?”
Studying the impact of Jesus is important work for anyone to do whether you are interested in history, philosophy, theology, or any number of disciplines… His life has echoed through time. In fact, if Jesus is not a real person, his life is all the more interesting! Have you heard of the book “The Sacred Mushroom and the Cross” by John Allegro? This book furthers a fascinating theory that “Jesus” was actually a code name used by early “Christians” to disguise the psilocybin mushroom so that their secret sacrament would not be discovered by the un-initiated. Following this theory, the character of “Jesus” was created by early Christians to share the lessons being taught on psychedelic mushroom trips. There is actually a similar theory about Socrates: that the famous philosopher was just a fictional creation of Plato.
Regardless of whether or not Jesus actually existed, it is worth our time to ponder the famous question of What Would Jesus Do. The answers can lead in some powerful directions.
What Jesus Would Do:
Jesus spent an enormous amount of time preaching about an important topic: righting the wrongs of religious teachers.
Many of his famous parables and stories were directed against the religious teachers of the day. The Pharisees. For example, In Matthew Chapter 12, Jesus demonstrates that it is OK to perform miracles on the Sabbath day, typically considered a day free from work or strain of any kind. In this passage, the religious leaders first begin to plot a way to kill Jesus because he dared to heal someone on the Sabbath despite their proclamation that it is unlawful to do such things on the Holy Day.
Further, in the famous sermon on the Mountaintop (Matthew Chapters 5-7), Jesus lays out a great deal of instruction in clarity that is in contrast to his usual methods of teaching in riddles. In this sermon, Jesus lays out instruction that is directly in opposition to the current behaviors of Church leaders and attendees:
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” – Matthew 6: 5-14
I first read this quote when I was 15. Honestly, it was an important realization for the Young Paul because I began to recognize that many of my fellow church-goers operated in direct opposition to this instruction, despite the whole time acting as if they were especially devoted to the “Word of God” and had the whole Bible memorized… or something.
So what would Jesus do? He would probably begin by talking some shit on fundamentalist Christianity, just like the good ol days.
Here’s an episode of the Beyond Homo Sapien Podcast where I go into detail on this topic:
Jesus As The “Son Of God”
A crucial point of the Christian theology is that Jesus is the “Son of God”. In fact, it is preached that this is specifically what a person must accept and believe in order to enter heaven and avoid being burned for all eternity in the fires of hell. It is said in church that Jesus allegedly backs this all up in his teachings, although the actual words of Jesus do not expressly lay out this claim.
Jesus did not have much to say about hell. Indeed, most of his teachings centered around loving others, talking shit about the current religious leaders, and his own divinity.
It is this last point that receives the most criticism in today’s world and also allegedly in Jesus’ own time. It is for this reason (claiming his own divinity) that Jesus is supposedly sentenced to death by crucifixion.
What is Jesus actually saying when he’s talking about being the “Son of God”?
Again, the Christian church will tell you quickly that Jesus is literally the son of God. He was birthed by Mary (a virgin) and sent by God as some sort of undercover agent to save the world from sin. He was God incarnate because, in addition to being the son of God, he was also God himself in human form… It’s a bit confusing for Christians too.
Jesus does not make this question any easier to answer. In John Chapter fourteen he says the following:
“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-the Spirit of truth. The would cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one that loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and myself to him.” (John Chapter 14: 15-21)
Here’s another doozie:
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believed stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what he has done has been done through God.” (John 3: 16-21)
Now, if you have the belief that Jesus is literally referring to himself, these passages might seem a bit clear although hard to believe. If you are someone (like me) who thinks there is something a bit more real going on here, passages like these leave much to discuss.
Do you know about the Kabbalah?
A great book on the topic of Kabbalah and the Inverted Tree of Life is this one: The Spiritual Essence of Man by Choa Kok Sui.
Most Instagram gurus would have you believe there are seven Chakras or “Energy Systems”. However, if you examine the Chakras as taught in the system of the Kabbalah, you will learn there are actually twelve.
The 12th Chakra is called the “Soul Chakra”. It is called “Ain Soph Ur” and serves as the seat of the soul inside (or, well, above) the body. The Soul Chakra is composed of three distinct “parts”: the “Divine Spark” (Ain), the “Higher Soul” (Ain Soph), and the “Incarnated Soul” (Ain Soph Ur). This Soul Chakra and it’s three forms are said to be a person’s connection with their “higher self” or spiritual source. Essentially, they are a person’s connection to the divine.
Hindus believe similarly. In Hindu tradition, there is said to be one god who incarnates in countless forms. One form of this god is you. Another form is me. Another is Shiva. Another is a tree. Etc.
In the Hindu belief system, we all carry inside ourselves a divine spark. We all carry a divine origin.
Again, learning more about the Chakra energy system will lead you down this path of learning the three elements of the “Soul Chakra”.
Could it be possible that this is to what Jesus referred?
The “Holy Spirit” is the Soul Chakra.
The idea of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is an allegory for this divine connection we all share with the divine realm. In a sense, we are all connected to god in the same way this computer I’m using is connected to the internet.
Is this way of viewing Jesus’ method correct?
Honestly, it is up to you. I think that what Jesus was really trying to say was this:
Don’t listen to the religious teachers. They do not know what they’re talking about. I am God and so are you. You can do as I do. Indeed, he even said this pretty clearly before he “ascended to heaven”:
“I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” (John 14:12)
Jesus would probably tell us to love one another and remember our divine source. Do unto others as you would have them do to you because they are you. We are all one. We are all connected at the top of this divine source.
Anyone who would have you believe different might be full of shit.
Honestly though, dive into the Bible and decide for yourself. I’m just a humble initiate trying to find my own way through all these old books. There are hidden truths and mysteries in the depths of these holy books and I’ll be sure to share as more is revealed.