I no longer pay for good cable (if there is such a thing). The only reason that I have cable at all is because my modem costs nearly the same amount for a slower speed without cable, so I have basically network tv with a few cable channels I never watch thrown in. All that was to say that I no longer have cable news (well, at least no cable news that I would watch), and as a result I have been much happier. There are apparently wars and crises I know nothing about and I could not be happier about it.
The news I do get are the issues that people are talking about on Facebook and other places. One of the things that keeps being talked about is children at the border coming into the United States and how that apparently offends people. It is good to know that we live in a world where it is children in need that offends us, but wars and all the other stuff is just fine.
I do not know the situation that is behind the arrival of children, but I do know that Jesus said that whatever we do to “the least of these” we do to Him. And I cannot think of a better definition of the least of these than these children. If Christ tells us we do to Him what we do to the least of these, then the way respond to these children is the way we respond to Christ. If we protest them, call them names, threaten them, send them away, then that is what we are doing to Jesus Christ. And if we call Christ names, threaten Him, send Him away, then we cannot call ourselves Christian. We certainly cannot say that Jesus is in any way our “Lord” or our God. We cannot hate Christ and say that we follow Christ – and if we hate these children, then we hate Christ because they are the least of these and whatever we do to them, we do to Christ.
A few years ago, one of the political parties was having a debate. During the course of that debate the crowd cheered at the idea of a poor man with a job dying in a hospital because he could not afford health insurance. When one of the debaters was asked if we should just let that man die, some members of the crowd yelled out “Yeah!” and then the crowd erupted in applause and cheers.
How many of those who were cheering the death of an uninsured man are Christians? I would wage that a safe bet would have 70 – 80 percent of the crowd (if not more) claiming to be members of the Christian faith. But would the man they claim to follow, whom they claim is their Lord and Savior, would that man cheer at the idea of a working-poor man dying because he cannot afford health insurance? When they ask themselves: “What would Jesus do?” is that the answer they come up with?
I am not trying to malign a party or members of that party or anyone at all. That is why I have not mentioned the name of the party or the people on stage. This is not about politics or even health care or immigration. It is about a lazy, hateful, bigoted, selfish, self-centered, hurtful ethos that has systematically replaced Christianity, while still claiming to be and calling itself “Christian.”
I am not sure about much in this life, but I am sure that Jesus would never cheer at the actual, hypothetical, or potential death of anyone, especially a poor workingman whose only crime is being too poor to afford health insurance. I am certain that Jesus would not let that person die in a hospital, or place profit and payment about people. I am sure that Jesus would not protest children, send children away, or hurl hateful slurs at children. And I am sure that when Christian cheer at death and protest children, Jesus weeps.
Jesus so identifies with the powerless, the poor, the dispossessed, the insignificant that he considers and act for or against them as an act for or against Him. Jesus tells us He IS that uninsured worker who cannot afford health insurance – and when the crowd cheered at the idea of the death of that man, the crowd was – whether they knew it or not – cheering the idea of the death of Christ. Jesus tells us that He identifies with those children at the border and when we send them away or hurl hateful speech at them, we are sending Christ away and verbally abusing Him as we do. Christ identifies Himself as the least of these, and whatever we do to the least of these, we do to Christ; whatever we do not do, or whatever we refuse to do, we do not do for Christ.
So, the problem is that we have Christians who claim to be following Jesus, but who in reality are cheering the death of Jesus Christ, or calling for Jesus Christ to starve, or declaring the Jesus Christ get off His lazy ass and get a job. When they cheer it or yell it at the least of these, they are cheering and yelling it at Christ. That is not my opinion! That is the teaching of Jesus Christ! The problem is that you cannot be a Christian if you are cheering at the death of Christ. You cannot be a Christian if you are cheering at the death of those with whom Christ identifies. You cannot be a Christian if you are sending Christ away or verbally abusing Christ. You just can’t. You can call yourself a Christian, sure. But you can also call yourself a duck – it does not make you a duck. You only become a duck when you take on the qualities of being a duck – you look like a duck and you act like a duck. You only get to be a Christian when you take on the qualities of Christ – you begin to look like Christ and act like Christ.
It is time for us to stop asking ourselves “What would Jesus do?” but instead ask ourselves: “What am I doing to Jesus?” Our answer is provided by how we treat the least of these. Our Christianity lies in how we treat those who can do nothing for us. It is not what we say we believe, but it is what we do that defines us – because frankly, if we do not do it, then we do not believe it anyway.