By Yme Woensdregt
Lots of people claim to follow Jesus, and then they do stuff which makes you wonder. Granted, I understand that we are all fallible human beings—which means that we are all going to screw up at times. But my point is that you can’t deliberately do these things if you claim to follow Jesus’ example. Also, let me be clear that this is not a complete list—but it’s not a bad place to start.
10) Exclude people because they practice another religion.
Jesus was constantly including people, and he did it with a radical disregard for their religion. Jesus spoke with everyone without discriminating. He was even accused of breaking bread with the wrong people; they said he was a glutton and that he broke the law because of his practice.
9) Exclude people for what they look like, how they were born, or things beyond their control.
I may have mentioned this already but Jesus was constantly including people. Jesus had this rebel streak in him that actually sought out folks who didn’t “fit in.” People who were different, people who were marginalized, people whom others excluded, people who were made to feel unwanted in one way or another held a special place in the heart, life and actions of Jesus. I suspect he did it because he understood they weren’t actually different at all. They were precious human beings. I suspect he would have embraced members of the LGBTQ community and Muslims and poor people, for example.
8) Withhold caring from people.
Did you ever play the game “Follow the Leader?” If you don’t do what the leader does, you are out. Following means you should imitate as closely as possible. When people who were sick or lonely or anxious and needed care, Jesus gave it to them. If we are following Jesus, we will imitate him as closely as possible. We will take care of everyone. Everyone.
7) Exclude people.
Last time. I promise. Jesus was constantly including people. It’s a little concept called love. He was pretty big on it.
6) Let people go hungry.
When Jesus said “Feed my sheep,” he wasn’t talking about just spiritual feeding. If Gandhi was right (and I suspect he was), you can’t have one without the other: “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” There isn’t a food shortage in the world. There is enough for everyone. There isn’t a problem with a distribution system capable of handling it; I can eat lobster from Nova Scotia while looking at the Rockies. The problem is that we aren’t very good at sharing.
5) Make money more important than God and God’s people.
The love of money really is the root of all sorts of evil—not money itself, but the love of money. We make choices about what we will do with our money every day. Our choices speak louder than our words. Willingly or not, our choices frequently hurt the least of these and others rather than help them. Sometimes, we even hurt ourselves. Because money is so important, we will shop at stores because their prices are cheaper even though we know their products are made in sweat shops. We buy mass–produced food because it’s cheaper than buying from the farmer down the road. We’d rather keep more of our money than pay the taxes it takes to provide for those in need. We have a money problem.
4) Judge others.
“That ‘speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye’ and ‘let the one who is without sin cast the first stone’ stuff? I meant it. Signed, Jesus.”
3) Be physically aggressive or violent.
Jesus’ message and life showed us that we are to avoid violent behavior. Find non–violent ways to seek justice. Be creative in your protests. See how Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi did this, to name just a couple of folks who got the message.
2) Use the church to hurt people.
If there was anything that could tick Jesus off, it was when institutions used their power and practice to hurt or exclude people. Notice, for example, the incident of the money changers in the Temple. It was supposed to be a place of worship. So while it is true that Jesus became physically aggressive there (throwing over the tables and booths), it’s important to note that even then, he didn’t attack people. Just threw some stuff around.
The one possible exception might be “hate” itself but even then hate breeds hate — so it’s best to avoid hating altogether. I have to admit I have problem tolerating people who are intolerant. But I am learning in my journey not to do it.
It’s a process of growing in love. Isn’t that what it’s all about?