Christ Was Not a Christian
...and Christians cannot really be 'Christlike.'
BY: Garry Wills
In certain religious circles, the letters WWJD serve as a password or shibboleth. Web sites sell bracelets and T-shirts with the cryptic motto. Some politicians tell us this watchword guides them in making decisions. The letters stand for "What Would Jesus Do?" We are assured that doing the same thing is the goal of real Christians.
But can we really aspire to do what Jesus did? Would we praise a twelve-year-old who slips away from his parents in a big city and lets them leave town without telling them he is staying behind? The reaction of any parent would be that of Jesus' parents: "How could you treat us this way?" (Lk 2.48). Or if relatives seek access to a Christian, should he say that he has no relatives but his followers (Mk 3.33–35)? We might try to change water into wine; but if we did, would we take six huge water vats, used for purification purposes, and fill them with over a hundred gallons of wine, more than any party could drink (Jn 2.6)? If we could cast out devils, would we send them into a herd of pigs, destroying two thousand animals (Mk 5.13)? Some Christians place a very high value on the rights of property, yet this was a massive invasion of some person’s property and livelihood.
|He is not just like us... he has higher rights and powers.|
Other Christians lay great emphasis on family values—should they, like Jesus, forbid a man from attending his own father’s funeral (Mt 8.22) or tell others to hate their parents (Mt 8.22, Lk 14.26)? Or should they go into a rich new church in some American suburb, a place taking pride in its success, and whip the persons holding out collection plates, crying, "Make not my Father's house a traders' mart" (Jn 2.16) or "a thieves' lair" (Mk 11.17)? Would it be wise of them to call national religious leaders "whitewashed tombs, pleasant enough to outer appearance, but inside full of dead bones and every rottenness" (Mt 23.27)? Are they justified in telling others, "I come not imposing peace, I impose not peace but the sword" (Mt 10.34)? Or "I am come to throw fire on the earth" (Lk 12.49)? Should they imitate Jesus when he says, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but never will my words pass away" (Mk 21.333)? Or when he says, "I am the resurrection" (Jn 11.25) or "I am the truth" (Jn 14.6), or "I have the authority to lay down my life and I have the authority to take it up again" (Jn 10.18)? None of those who want to imitate Jesus should proclaim that "I am the light of the world" (Jn 8.12) or that "I am the path" to the Father (Jn 14.6).