Tag Archives: Obama

What Would the Third Most Important Person in History Do?

Most lists include Jesus as the third most important person in human history. Third! Have they never watched “Talhedega Nights”? And no, the two finishing in front of Jesus are not the other Persons in the Trinity.

But seriously, Muhammad and Isaac Newton nose Jesus out at the finish line in these lists mainly because Jesus shares credit for the founding of Christianity with the Apostle Paul (#6) and because Jesus did not start a political movement.

WWJD in Politics?

Agree or disagree with Jesus’ third place finish, it is true Jesus was not very political. Why then are so many people today trying to enlist Jesus in their political causes? Why not ask What Would Muhammad Do? Or What Would Isaac Do?

Instead everyone from PETA to President Obama is asking WWJD? as a way to add biblical street cred to their ideas. The animal rights organization PETA prints the words “What would Jesus do?” over pictures of animals being killed. At the end of the video they answer for a silent Jesus and conclude, “Go vegetarian.” Trouble is he didn’t go vegetarian.

And though I could find no citable examples of the Religious Right using the WWJD phrase, religious conservatives have long implied Jesus may be on their side politically. They may have been the first to have drafted him to their team.

But the Religious Left has since piled on. Sojourners, speaking for the Religious Left, wonders, “Would Jesus Occupy Wall Street?” After exegeting many of Jesus’ actions as not only religious but rather political, and claiming Jesus was an angry activist, author Aaron D. Taylor answers his own question with, “I don’t see how a person [Jesus] can be an angry activist and a friend of aristocrats at the same time.” Problem is Jesus did have several aristocratic friends: Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea to name two.

Rabbi Eliyahu Fink calls this “transparent political pandering.” I think it’s worse than pandering. It shows either a towering ignorance of Jesus or a dangerous dishonesty. Or both. I have a friend who believes that because Jesus pulled a coin from the mouth of a fish and told Peter to use it to pay his taxes, Jesus is for taxes and, in this case, for raising them on the “rich.”

WWJD in Weird Ways

Victoria Emily Jones says, “The phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” has become a snowclone, a phrasal template that’s customizable to suit any purpose.  A lot of its present-day derivatives have nothing to do with Jesus, but instead substitute his name with somebody else’s.”

Jones is on to something. Many, however, are not merely using the WWJD? phrase as a snowclone, but rather are using Jesus himself that way, substituting Jesus for themselves in their political beliefs.

It’s the faulty “name it and claim it” theology (Jesus said for you to give me your money) being applied to politics (Jesus said you should join my political cause).

Neither false belief have much more to do with Jesus except using his name as a snowclone.

Jesus as a Reflection of Me

What this amounts to is not an attempt to honestly follow Jesus and to live life as the third most important person in history did. But rather it is striving to show Jesus would have followed us. In this way, we treat Jesus as a mirror’s reflection of ourselves mimicking our every move.

This is troubling first because it is so narcissistic. Second because it gives me permission to stay stuck in my misperceptions and misbehaviors that are destructive to myself and others.

Follow Jesus

What would Jesus do? My reading of his four biographies shows Jesus would challenge nearly every foundational belief in my life, either for me to deepen them beyond my shallow perception, or to throw them out because they are self-serving lies. Knowing which is tricky. Yet Jesus has often asked the latter of me.

Jesus said, “Take up your cross and follow me” not “Make up your slogan and recruit me.”

I know some of you reading this may not believe Jesus was the Son of God. That’s a subject for another conversation. You may simply think Jesus was merely the third (or second or tenth) most important person in history. What is undeniable is that, without starting a political party, enlisting a military, or founding a government, Jesus has impacted billions of lives.

Whether you believe Jesus was God Incarnate or not, my living spiritually challenge for next week (Holy Week) is this:

Read one of Jesus‘ biographies (Mark and Luke are very straightforward) and choose several humanly accomplishable things Jesus did. Then each new day of the week attempt to do that very thing.

For example:

Monday I will forgive something big the way Jesus did; Tuesday I will spend time with some children; Wednesday I will look at someone I disapprove of or am afraid of with non-judgmental eyes, Thursday I will not defend myself if accused or attacked; Friday I will give grace and mercy to someone who may not deserve it; then Sunday I will replace my fear of the future with faith.

I do not want this to be an exercise in perfectionism, nor in futility and frustration. More than likely it will take more than one day to accomplish any of the above. And if I know myself, I will fail at one or more of the above. What I do desire is to know and experience the attempt. What do I feel when I succeed or fail? What have I learned about myself? What have I learned about Jesus?

What would the third most important person in history do? Unfortunately not a lot that I fill my daily life with. Maybe this week I’ll find out. Join me please.

Eugene C. Scott doesn’t wear bracelets or outfits. Jesus didn’t either. He also loves to read and write stories. Eugene is currently writing another blog called The Year of Living Spiritually. You can join the Living Spiritually community by following that blog and clicking here and liking the page. He is also co-pastor of The Neighborhood Church.


Filed under Uncategorized

More Controversial Than The Health Care Debate

How would you respond if the head of your country handed down the following edict?

From this day forward, all the poor and homeless in this country are free to help themselves to the following:

  • All clearance or reduced price items in retail stores
  • All day-old baked goods in retail bakeries
  • The free use of any vacant buildings or homes
  • All medication in pharmacies that have reached their expiration date
  • Every automobile on new and used car lots that hasn’t sold within 90 days

“It’s an outrage!” some would protest. “This is nothing short of socialism and the end of capitalism. A violation of my rights!”

For centuries, politicians have engaged in an ongoing debate concerning governmental interference. “Charity must not be mandated upon the individual,” some protest. “The defense and care of the poor and destitute is the responsibility of the government,” others defend.

Today’s reading throws a wrench into this debate. Please join me…and duck!


Leviticus 19:1-20:21
Mark 8:11-38
Psalm 42:1-11
Proverbs 10:17


Leviticus 19. Each of the Ten Commandments are represented in some form in this rich chapter.

Most fertility cults at that time dictated that harvesters leave the edges of the field as an offering to their god. For Israel, however, the gleanings were given to the poor (verse 9) as part of their welfare system.

Verse 19 offers a somewhat strange command prohibiting the mixing or mating of different kinds of materials or animals. The reasoning behind the materials is that certain mixtures were reserved for sacred use. For example, the mixture of wool and linen was used in the tabernacle and in the high priest’s outer garments. In Hittite culture, sowing two types of seed in your field was punishable by death. Regarding mating different animals, the Word Biblical Commentary explains, “This law seeks to prevent the blurring of the variety of species and kinds that God created; that is, it seeks to preserve the diversity in the created world.”

Verse 23 forbids eating the fruit of a fruit tree within the first three years of being planted. Fruit trees were extremely valuable in ancient culture, so proper cultivation of the tree ensured future harvests. Interestingly enough, the word translated “forbidden” means literally, “uncircumcised.”

The Bible Background Commentary explains the reasoning behind the command that prohibits cutting the hair on the side of men’s head or clipping the edge of  their beard (in verse 27): “The law’s placement here immediately after the prohibition against divination suggests that the restriction on cutting the hair is based on the Canaanite practice of making an offering of hair to propitiate the spirits of the dead (see Deuteronomy 14:1).”

Verse 28 prohibits getting a tattoo. Tattoos and body painting were used to protect people from the spirits of the dead.

Leviticus 20. The penalties for this list of sexual offenses may seem severe, but scholars believe they served as the maximum punishment and that offenders may have received lesser penalties.

The command not to give your children to Molech in verses 1-5 is a reference to child sacrifice.

In verse 9, the command not to curse your parents literally means to treat with contempt.

Mark 8:14-21. As is common throughout his gospel, Mark shows that the disciples were about as clued out about Jesus as everyone else.

Psalm 42. We read at the beginning of the psalm that it was written by the sons of Korah—who happened to be a family of musicians.

Proverbs 10:17. “He who heeds discipline shows the way to life.” The word “discipline” can also be translated “correction” or “chasten.” So, here’s the Klassen translation of this verse: “Whoever accepts criticism finds life.” As I think about this, it seems to me that children take criticism much better than adults. For the most part, children know that they know not. Adults, on the other hand, know not that they know not.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.


“They’re not my responsibility.”

“I’m not my brother’s keeper.”

By nature, mercy barely registers on my spiritual gifts list. And, as my wife would attest, I tend to be cheap in the way I prefer to spend money.

That said, today’s reading in Leviticus 19:9-10 throws my world in a bit of chaos:

“ ‘When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Do not go over your vineyard a second time or pick up the grapes that have fallen. Leave them for the poor and the alien. I am the Lord your God.

I’m not one for long quotes in a blog, but I couldn’t rephrase the insight below from The New Bible Commentary any clearer. Please read slowly:

The relief of poverty in Israel…was built into economic and legal structures, not left as a matter of private charity. This law…addresses the issue not from the angle of rights but of responsibilities. That is, it assumes the right of gleaning, but commands the landowner to make sure there is something to be gleaned. Boaz was a model of this in practice (Ruth 2).

Those who possessed land (and other productive resources) may not have been responsible for the plight of the poor (though the prophets keenly observed that their greed and exploitation may have contributed to it), but they were responsible to God to alleviate it. This law thus sets possession of resources in a framework of duty to God and others, and rejects the idea that private property is an absolute right, giving one freedom to extract every last drop of income or profit from one’s assets….Whatever the economic system, there must be adequate provision for the poor. Ownership confers responsibilities, not just privileges. And this is the practical meaning of holiness.

“With rights come responsibilities” this quote seems to say. But the responsibility isn’t to the poor or the alien, the responsibility is to God. And by caring for our neighbor who lives in poverty, we show our love for God—and our gratitude for his provision.

I find it interesting that even day laborers were protected under the provisions of the law (verse 13). Day laborers were extremely vulnerable, so God commanded that they be paid on time so the worker and his family wouldn’t go to bed that night hungry. Even aliens were offered equal protection.

But get this: the law in this case was dictated by God but enforced by Israel’s government. It wasn’t the choice of the individual.

What does this look like for us today? God loves a cheerful giver. But for the grumpy givers, God seems to mandate provision for the poor through governmental intervention.

To what extent should the government intrude on the charitable spending decisions of the individual? That’s up for debate—but it seems to me that God opts for greater generosity on our part toward the poor.


  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Leviticus 19 gives a long list of short commands. Do any other them stick out to you as significant?
  3. Do you agree that children take criticism better than adults? Why or why not?
  4. What’s your reaction to the lo-o-o-ng quote in The Word Made Fresh?

If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.


Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized