WWJD, What Would Jesus Do? It took the culture by storm in the past 20 years. It’s a simple and worthy creed for millions of Christians.
There’s another memory device that might be worth pondering regarding our challenges today, WDJD, What Did Jonah Do?
Jonah and the whale is one of the great Old Testament stories. Jonah was a reluctant servant. God said, “Go,” and Jonah said, “Who, me?” Jonah resisted, ran, repented—sort of, responded…and when the Lord blessed his ministry, Jonah rejected the results.
WDJD? Jonah didn’t want to take a message of God’s love and forgiveness to Nineveh, a people he considered a nemesis, if not an enemy, of his people.
But God had other plans and sent a great revival to Nineveh. Jonah didn’t like this either and the book entitled with his name ends with Jonah pouting under a vine.
God points out to Jonah that Nineveh had more than 120,000 children so young they didn’t know their left from right hands, suggesting a total population ranging to a million. Then God asks, “Should I not be concerned about that great city?” (Jonah 4:11)
This is our challenge today: We live in a time when religions and regimes with strong anti-Western and anti-American postures are growing, aggressive, and threatening. Their advance seems like an unstoppable juggernaut, which is creating social tensions and political confusion throughout European countries and the United States. In addition, the West is still engaged in military action in Iraq and Afghanistan.
It might be easy, even understandable, and seemingly logical for us to feel like Jonah, resisting spiritual responsibility or opportunity for regional populations in the Middle East, Africa, or Asia.
But this is not the way the Lord works. He asks, “Should I not be concerned about that great city?”
We can ask WWJD and embrace Jesus’ approach, or we can ask WDJD and follow Jonah’s lead. Figuring this out may be the defining Christian challenge of the new millennium.
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© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010
*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.
Sunday is a day for renewal, involving reverence, rest, recreation, reading, rumination, re-visioning, refreshment, and relationships.
Reverence means focusing upon the Lord who can rejuvenate our spirits. This preferably includes church attendance where we can worship in community. In any event, it means recognizing once again that all good and perfect gifts come from God.
Rest might include the renowned Sunday nap, but it might not. God rested on the 7th Day of Creation not because he was tired but because he wanted to enjoy what he had done. Rest allows us to review and reconsider, ponder and appreciate. Rest is part of restoration. Rest usually means a pause, but it might also mean activity like recreation.
Recreation is another form of re-creation, rebirth if you will, an opportunity to juice the spirit and the mind as well as the body. Recreation can make you tired, but it’s a good tired rather than a stressful one. Watching sports is OK, especially when enjoyed with others. But getting active is probably more important for most of us in the couch-potato-culture in which we live.
Reading is still the best way I know of to exercise the mind, and it is one way the Lord speaks to us through his Word, the Bible. Unlike watching television, a passive activity, reading is an “active activity.” It introduces new thoughts and experiences, even if vicariously, and it increases both our vocabulary and our facility in using that vocabulary.
Rumination is a fancy word for thinking. In the Scripture it says Mary the Mother of Jesus witnessed the events following his miraculous birth and “pondered them in her heart.” She thought about them. Most of us, certainly me, would do better if we ruminated more and talked less. Meditation on spiritual matters is also important, one with an honored and worthy tradition in the history of the Christian Church.
Re-visioning is an opportunity to take stock. Are we on the right track? Do we need to adjust our heading if not our destination? Is there some new, bold, proactive step we could take in our lives that takes advantage of the time, talent, and treasure God has given us? Should we take a calculated risk? Is it time to step up and step out?
Refreshment can involve the obvious, food, nothing wrong with that. Food can involve quantity, type, or quality. Maybe we need to “eat better” rather than more. Or refreshment might mean re-energizing the spirit or body via the activities we’ve mentioned. The key is to find something we can do or experience that is different, i.e. non-repetition, from what we typically do day by day.
Relationships speaks to the opportunity the weekend in general and Sunday in particular usually affords for reconnection with family and friends. We don’t often admit it, but even the most individualistic among us needs others. We need each other for support, iron sharpening iron, or simply camaraderie.
It’s not that any or all of these things cannot be accomplished any day of the week. It’s just that most of us are far too professionally engaged to pause long to reflect about anything. Without reflection there is no renewal. No better day for that than Sunday.
© Rex M. Rogers – All Rights Reserved, 2010
*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com, or follow Dr. Rogers at www.twitter.com/RexMRogers.
Dr. Michael E. Wittmer’s new book, Don’t Stop Believing: Why Living Like Jesus Is Not Enough, Zondervan (2008), is a well-written examination and evaluation of the frontiers of evangelical Christian thought. Wittmer tackles questions emerging from those who yearn for a “new kind of Christian,” among them pastor/writers like Brian McLaren. To avoid confusion with other terms, Wittmer calls these individuals “postmodern innovators,” yet demonstrates a profound respect throughout his book for those with whom he disagrees.
Wittmer’s chapters are developed from these questions, which he answers, making the deeper theological and philosophical topics presented easier to grasp. Wittmer notes how the pendulum on the perimeter of evangelicalism is swinging from a concern for right doctrine to a concern for right living. Then he asks, Why does one have to replace the other? He demonstrates why belief is still critical to the Christian faith and argues that while faith without works is dead, so works without faith do not work.
Wittmer is Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary and is a bright, young star on the conservative evangelical horizon. His first book, Heaven Is A Place On Earth: Why Everything You Do Matters To God, Zondervan (2004), is still doing well and both books call Christians to an understanding of the Bible and life practice more faithful to God’s Word. Both books are well worth the cost and the time to read them.
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2009
This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.
Our problem in American culture does not occur when we say “I believe in Jesus.” It occurs when we say “Jesus is the only way.” The exclusive claims of biblical Christianity are not welcome to many in our religiously pluralistic and morally relativistic culture.
This was the topic of a seminar I attended in Dallas this week at the 2006 International Forum on Christian Higher Education. The seminar was entitled “Proclaiming Jesus in a Pluralistic Culture.” In it we discussed how Christian truth can be presented winsomely and effectively, yet respectfully, in a culture buffeted by many competing belief systems.
I believe a public moral consensus—what scholars have called “the sacred canopy”—is necessary to a sustainable culture and society, particularly a free society. In the past, perhaps as late as the early 1960s, much of the American public moral consensus was based upon the tenets of biblical religion. Adultery, murder, theft, work, play, right and wrong, all these and more were rooted in a broad definition of Christendom—or what in the 1950s began to be called Judeo-Christian beliefs.
Today this is no longer the case. Today we work with multiple sacred canopies, some of which proffer conflicting views of fundamental issues like the definition of marriage, the beginning and meaning of life, a “right to privacy,” so-called alternative sexualities, and much more, including differing attitudes toward environmental conservation, stem cell research, poverty and the poor, health care, etc.
So, if a public moral consensus is the glue that holds a society together, and that consensus breaks down, how do the centripetal forces this creates keep the society from tearing itself apart? And if Christians are mandated by God to evangelize the lost and transform the culture for the glory of God, how can they do this in a pluralistic society without being accused of forcing our morality upon others?
This is not an easy question to answer because it involves issues of church and state and associated questions of religion and politics. One thing we can do, though, is recognize the difference between sin and crime, immoral and illegal.
For example, I believe people who use vulgar language and people who commit adultery are involved in sin. But I do not want my government to legislate these sins by calling them crime. On the flip side, I believe that while abortion may be legal, it is not moral, so while abortion is not a crime, in my theology it is a sin.
The extent to which we work to “contextualize” our biblical worldview in a free and pluralistic culture is one of the most challenging questions of our day. I don’t want to live in a theocracy like Iran or a near-theocracy like Afghanistan. I also don’t want to live in an irreligious but politically dictatorial nation like China. I don’t want the United States to be a Christian theocracy, nor do I want my country to lack the influences of biblical truth.
How I live my faith amidst increasing religious and moral diversity will tell the tale not only of my own testimony but also of the spiritual and political vitality of my country. What would Jesus do?
© Rex M. Rogers - All Rights Reserved, 2006
*This blog may be reproduced in whole or in part with a full attribution statement. Contact Dr. Rogers or read more commentary on current issues and events at www.rexmrogers.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/rexmrogers.