In our culture today, Christians often speak about their “ethics” and service to neighbors and friends in light of the question, “What would Jesus do?” The Bible encourages this when it says in Phil. 2, “Have this mind in you which was in Christ Jesus.” What follows is a call to humility, to service, to submission to the things of God that concerns itself with others rather than oneself.
For Christians, this is a vital question indeed as we seek to live our lives in imitation of the one who died and rose to forgive our sins and to make us new creations through Baptism. We walk in the newness of life, no longer serving ourselves, but serving others as Christ our Lord and His apostles all teach.
“Turn the other cheek; forgive as you have been forgiven, love as God in Christ loves you,” are the marching orders of God’s people in the world to proclaim His saving good news of the Gospel.
The question “What would Jesus do?” is often misunderstood though with regards to God’s work in the Left-Hand Kingdom, even Christian involvement in the things of Caesar. Many think the answer to “what would Jesus do?” is the same for the individual Christian as it is for the government or those living in their vocations in service to the state.
It is important to note that Jesus did not teach that the government should behave like the Church. Jesus did not teach His disciples to work to make the government turn the other cheek. The Apostle Paul taught that the government is given the authority of the sword to punish. That does not sound like turning the other cheek.
When it comes to understanding God’s left-hand kingdom, we should probably ask, “What would Jesus ‘really’ do?” He would doubtlessly say, “Honor the work of God the Father in His preserving work through the things created to order this world.” Honor your Father, your Mother; If a person won’t work, neither shall he eat; Submit yourselves to the authorities that are meant to order things for everyone’s good; Yes, even Give to Caesar’s the things that are Caesar’s.
Jesus exemplified this perspective when he talked the governor Pilate, who pointed out to Jesus that he controlled His destiny, His very life. Jesus reminded Pilate that the only power he had was “given to him from above.” Jesus submitted Himself to Pilate’s God-given power. Jesus literally accomplished the world’s salvation through the pathetic leadership of Pilate, and the blood thirstiness of a mob who cajoled Pilate to use his authority for the supposed “peace of the community.”
One way that American’s can honor the preserving work of God in the world is to approach it with Jesus’s submission to the Father’s will, with an understanding of how God is at work in the things of this world to ensure temporal peace and justice. We can even remind “Caesar,” the political and law-enforcing powers, that they are to receive the things that God has ordained for them, no more, no less.
What would Jesus really do? He would honor the Father’s preserving work in the world always with His eyes set on the cross and resurrection as the only long-term solution to the things that really matter. What would Jesus do? What would the Father do? Remember, God is at work: in the Church and in the government. God is at work to bless and to ultimately save the world.