So… What WOULD Jesus do?
It was at the height of the Occupy Movement… the demonstrations outside St Paul’s Cathedral from late 2011 to 2012 when the age-old question was asked both in media narratives and documented in banners during the protests… ‘What would Jesus do?’.
WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?
Home-made placards pinned to safety fencing and tent canvas drew from the Biblical quotations, “He that oppresses the poor to increase his riches shall surely come to want.” (Proverbs 21:16); “I was hungered and you fed me not; naked and you clothed me not.” (Matthew 25:42)
Jesus as the revolutionary. What an inspiration! And none of this peaceful camping and banner holding. NO! Jesus freaking out, and turning over the tables of the money changers and dove sellers. Jesus preventing people from carrying merchandise through the temple courts. Jesus driving out those who were buying and selling there… with a whip. (John 2:15) “My House is a House of Prayer, but you have made it a Den of Thieves.” (Mark 11:17)
…No wonder they began to look for a way to kill him. (Mark 11:18)
I must admit that I didn’t ask myself ‘WWJD’ in so many words (or catchy letters) when I felt moved to create our #foodisfree front vegetable garden to share produce with our neighbours; but I certainly was motivated by the same injustice and human crisis that the protesters from the Occupy Movement to UK uncut were stirred to act on when they asked, ‘What would Jesus do?
I grew up and was churched in a patriarchal, post-colonial society that put great emphasis on ‘women’ submitting; and ‘slaves’ obeying their ‘masters’ to the point of the weaker more vulnerable parties always being the ones to ‘turn the other cheek’ because…
“What would Jesus do?” -we asked ourselves.
It was only at the point of belatedly starting to challenge the coercion, intimidation and bullying that came within this belief system that I found myself asking “What would Jesus do?” in relation to MY expectation of OTHERS towards myself and other vulnerable people. What Jesus would do was the only thing that kept me sitting in those church pews as I reflected on His treatment of the weak, the poor, and the vulnerable. (John 8:1-11; John 4:7-29; Matthew 19:13-15)
“What would Jesus do?” helped me respond with generosity and grace when faced with some of the coercion, intimidation and bullying I received working on this project during the past year whilst not tolerating that treatment to myself and others longer than said good grace permitted. (No, -not everyone involved in the process was nice.)
Having said that, “What would Jesus do?” helped me to ask much of people in my community too when I needed to step outside of my comfort zone and get help. There are, I can assure you, many, many more wonderful, open hearted human beings in the world than not. *insert smile and heart emoji here*
The lessons I learnt whilst undertaking the creation of our garden and the filming of the process are lessons I’ve had taught to me before, which I guess stood me in good stead when I essentially asked, “What would Jesus do?” of not just myself but of others as I rallied people in my community together to make our project what it is today.
Written by Aletheia Mashiri