I love flow charts. One of the best things about working in a hospital lab was that there was a flow chart for almost every decision. Flow charts are awesome. So when I ran across this flow chart on facebook yesterday, I knew I had to share it.
I shared this with the comment “WWGD? Now we know!” After taking a moment to congratulate myself on my own cleverness, I thought, Wouldn’t it be handy if there was a WWJD flowchart? What would that even look like? After considering it for a few minutes, I decided it would be something like this:
Very simple, but not particularly helpful, right?
So then I started thinking that maybe WWJD is the wrong question. Maybe instead of asking what Jesus would do, we should ask how he would love. And it turns out that there are a lot of different answers to that question.
Sometimes he loved a whole group of people, like when he healed the ten lepers on the road or fed the 5,000+ gathered to listen to him teach. Sometimes he loved just one person at a time, like the woman at the well or the possessed man who lived among the tombs. Sometimes he loved people by healing them or by giving them an opportunity. Sometimes he loved people by challenging them.
It’s interesting to look more closely at these encounters and realize that there is a pattern to what Jesus gives and how he challenges those who approach him. To those who have little (materially, socially, emotionally) he offers the most. He heals the paralytic. He offers an adulteress her life back. He commends the centurion for his faith. And to each of these, he offers some small challenge. Go and live a life of wholeness, a life free from sin, a life full of faith. To those in a position of power or blessed with material wealth, though, he seems to offer nothing but a challenge. He decries the outer-focused piety of the Pharisees. He tells the rich young man to sell everything he has and give the money to the poor. He tells the expert in the law that everyone is his neighbor.
It seems sometimes that the modern church has done the opposite of this. We want to love those outside of our circle by challenging them. As much as we may say that there is room at the cross for everyone who would come, what we seem to mean is that there is room for those who are somewhat like us. There is room for those who come already changed, or at least willing to change, willing to look more like us. We want the cross to become a place of holy homogeneity, but we must realize that love reaches out to the broken. It collects the inconvenient and unwieldy without judgment. It offers grace tempered with correction to those who don’t know any better and correction tempered with grace to those who should.