Using Jesus as an example is dangerous.
Man, that's a frightening phrase when my entire faith is based on the notion that Jesus Christ is the perfect example.
But consider with me, for a second, the possible problems in taking that notion too far.
Let's use a classic example. If you are in trouble and don't have a way out - what should you do? Well, what would Jesus do? He set this example by praying in times of stress.
Jesus' life was full, and even though only three short years were chronicled, we have a litany of examples by which we can model our lives.
The evil cartoon character Mr. Burns, on the Simpsons, responded when asked if he would not use the Simpsons' family dog to make a tuxedo because his wardrobe was already full, "Yes, but not completely full."
Jesus set the example for our lives, but the list of examples is not completely full.
It could be argued that all things boil down to a small subset of moral questions. I have made that argument myself on many occasions, but I have begun to review that logic. That argument is valid, but flawed.
All things have to be asked in the context of the question, "How is it in practice?" For example, if you have a religion that says oxygen is poison - in theory it might seem superb, but in practice it is useless.
You can believe anything you want, but its test ends with practice.
Let's use Jesus as our guide - What Would Jesus Do (WWJD)?
Nazis knock on your door and ask if you are hiding Jews in your attic. You are. Do you tell them? Well, what would Jesus do? Surely the Son of God would never lie. Lying is a sin, right? So - send those Jews to their deaths.
What a minute, you mean to tell me that Jesus Christ the Son of God and the most loving being in existence would send Jews to their death at the hands of the Nazis? That's insanity.
It is fair to comment here that death is not all that bad. But just consider that Jews are not saved, so their death means a one-way ticket to the warmer side of Valhalla.
November is approaching. Should I vote? Well, what would Jesus do? You might argue that Jesus implied that we are to partake in the government to the degree required of us and that voting is a requirement of citizenship. Fine, Jesus would vote.
Now that I am voting, for whom should I vote? Well, What would Jesus do? Would Jesus vote democratic? Would Jesus vote a party ticket? Would Jesus write-in His pastor?
While we are on the topic, would Jesus go to church? Would he go to a Baptist church or a Catholic church? Would Jesus have a Christmas tree? Would Jesus own His own car? Would Jesus have a secular job or preach?
This is the nature of the problem. How do contemporary questions relate to historical ones?
Are we to be JUST like Jesus or just as close as we can be comfortable?
Because let me tell you, you would have a long time pushing that Jesus would buy a house when he could feed the poor - you would have a long time pushing that Jesus would work in the secular world and not the mission field. You would have a long way to go to show Jesus driving an SUV to commute to downtown.
Before I go too far down this path, let me back up to the original point. Does Jesus' life give us enough to base our every action with Jesus as an example?
Did Jesus work in the secular world and did he deal with the pressures of promotion, layoffs, corporate evils and salaries? Did Jesus ever accidentally back his car into his neighbor's? Did Jesus drink Pepsi or Coke?
This kind of goes back to that one argument - all actions can be boiled down to a smaller subset of moral questions.
Using Jesus as an example for voting will never work. When you go to vote, you have a decision to make. Jesus gave us an example of how to make a decision.
Using Jesus on how to deal with backing into your neighbor's car will never work. But Jesus gave us plenty to go on for honesty, responsibility and kindness.
So, when I said that using Jesus as an example is dangerous, I was wrong.
And when I said that all things cannot boil down to a subset of morals, I was wrong again.
Jesus' life was not only full, it was completely full.
Let me say it in reverse.
All of life's problems can boil down into a simpler sub-set of moral questions, all of which can be answered by the example in the life of Christ.
Try that in practice and see of it is true.
Later, we'll deal with just how like Christ we are supposed to be.
Wait! So what would Jesus do when the Nazis known on His door? That's easy - he would do what was right.