Most of us are familiar with WWJD. An abbreviation for What Would Jesus Do, it became popular in the 1990s as a reminder to act in a manner that would demonstrate the love of Jesus. Not as openly accepted (and never printed on t-shirts, bracelets, etc.), but more popular with people of all genres would be WWIDT: Why Would I Do That.
Recently, there was a meeting in my neighborhood to discuss the future of a group home that would be an extension of the Manna House. Manna House is a residential addiction recovery and rehabilitation campus that has been in Brookshire of 20+ years. They run a program that has seen over 600 men pass through their doors. Unfortunately, the input from my neighbors was less than supportive and the home will probably be sold.
Our society is all about treatment and reform. We talk a big talk about the need for support for addiction recovery. We brag about the good things that are done with Celebrate Recovery and Alcoholics Anonymous. We are happy to make donations to support these good causes, especially if I can get a tax deduction and maybe some recognition. I support the programs whole-heartedly, until they begin to invade “my space”. I don’t want it in my neighborhood!
When we look at the example that Jesus set throughout His life, he was never in the ‘safe’ area. He would reach out and touch lepers as well as other ill persons. He traveled through Samaria and then took the time to talk with a Samaritan woman (both no-no’s). He kept company with tax collectors and prostitutes. He showed no concern about being with or being seen with societies “lesser” members.
No one wants to live next door to an addict. But, how do you know that you don’t already? Do you know everything about your neighbor? I lived in an area for years where the nicest people on the block were the ones that kept the local high school students supplied with recreational drugs. I didn’t know this was happening in my neighborhood until I saw the news trucks blocking the street one morning. There had been a shooting after a drug deal had gone bad. I would now prefer to live near a KNOWN residential home with rules and supervision for recovery instead of the unknown drug house.
When are we going to stop pretending that perfection is where we live? The last I checked, no one I know is perfect. We all have our own baggage. When does compassion come into play? When do we stop judging those who have admitted to having an addiction and are working to control it? When do we start treating them with civility and respect? When do we forgive them for messing up?
Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Matthew 6:9-13 MSG
The Lord’s Prayer: I memorized it as a child. I’ve sung it at weddings. I’ve studied it as an example of how to pray. It’s pretty straight forward. So why is it that so many of us we know the words but ignore the message that is summarized in the next two verses?
“In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.
Matthew 6:14-15 MSG
Forgiveness is at the center of our relationship with God. Gods forgives us and we are to forgive others. I’m not sure I’ve always understood what it means to forgive. There have been periods of my life when I saw no need to extend forgiveness if it wasn’t requested. Is that really the way God intends us to forgive? As a believer, I am taught that Christ died on the cross to forgive ALL of my sins: past, present and future. I only need to accept the forgiveness. When I realize there’s something wrong in my life, I confess it. But, the forgiveness was already granted. Even addicts are forgiven.
Addictions come in many forms. Honestly, as long as you don’t get caught or cause a big scene, the world “approves” of your addiction. Often, it’s the very addiction that makes you fun or entertaining. But, go public and the consequences are that you are no longer accepted into polite society. It’s time we stand and openly encourage those that are fighting addictions. It’s time to forgive those that have their addictions out in the open for all to see. It’s time to recognize that “there but by the grace of God, go I.”
So, the answer to WWJD is: whatever it takes to show love to others. WWJD is about risking it all. It’s about loving the unlovable. It’s about accepting the person even when we don’t approve of their behavior. It’s about forgiving the shortcomings and weaknesses of those that are dealing with addictions and encouraging better choices. When we espouse the ideology of WWIDT, everything revolves around ME. I have no time to think or consider others. I have no time for compassion, forgiveness or understanding. I set myself up as judge and jury. I barricade myself behind a wall of selfish indulgence that I call “safe” and remove the opportunity for God to work in my own life.
So, what about you? In your world, do you espouse WWJD or WWIDT? What is most important to you?