"What Would Jesus Do?"
Christians in America stopped listening for answers to that question years ago, mainly because we realized how little we liked what God was saying. Instead of doing the wrestling and growing and changing truly following Jesus Christ would have required, we instead came up with a new version of Jesus to worship. This new “American Jesus” not only shared our political beliefs but also justified our hatred, violence, xenophobia, racism, and apathy.
That same “American Jesus” has convinced us that “there’s nothing we can do” about mass shootings such as those that have recently occurred in Las Vegas and Texas (just to name a few). He’s played on our laziness and lack of concern for others, allowing us to feel justified in idly standing by and waiting for more people to die rather than doing the hard work of discussing a way forward. He’s stoked our fears, filling us with a passion for self-preservation that refuses to value the lives of others who are equally loved by God. And possibly worst of all, he’s hardened our hearts, causing us to accept violence and tragedy as part of God’s will for our country and our world.
Yes, we love our American Jesus because he’s so much easier to follow than Jesus Christ. After all, when we ask “What Would American Jesus Do?” we don’t have to worry about receiving answers like “love your enemy,” “care for the stranger among you,” or even “love your neighbor as yourself.” Instead, he’ll keep telling us exactly what we want to hear to justify our own sinfulness…and we’ll keep on wondering why our churches continue to shrink.