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On Faith: What would Jesus do about Wall Street?

October 14, 2011|By The Rev. Sarah Halverson

I confess I am moved by the "Occupy Wall Street" phenomenon. Not only is it occurring in the Mecca of our national financial district, it is occurring across the United States.

While some would dismiss it as a bunch of anarchists or young kids that don't know anything about hard work, I believe it is indicative of something deeper stirring in the hearts of Americans throughout the country.

There is a dissatisfaction with the status quo, a refusal to go on blindly acquiescing to an America where the few have it all. Assertions of "We are the 99% " declare that this is not simply an America that belongs to only those with the money to buy it. A tired and frustrated people are rising and refusing to take it anymore, rejuvenated at last by a unity of spirit that is catching on in cities all over the nation.

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I cannot help but envision an angry and disappointed Jesus, dismayed at the self-serving behavior of the ruthless money changers at the temple who relished in their own gain at the expense of others. He was appalled, sickened and lashed out against their capitalistic idolatry, thrusting the tables over and chastising them for turning God's house into a den of thieves.

We Christians have incorporated an acronym that fits nicely on a rubber bracelet to slip around our wrist: "WWJD?"

I wonder what would happen if we actually answered the question: "What would Jesus do?"

What would Jesus do if he strolled onto Wall Street? What would happen when he took one look at a nation with all the wealth of the world that refuses to provide health care for those who need it? What would Jesus do when he realized that here in this very nation of opportunity people actually go hungry? What would he do when he learned of the great divide of the haves and have-nots? What would he do when he saw the way we create a line between who belongs and who doesn't?

We don't like to admit it, but we know.

We know because all we have to do is turn to the New Testament and watch him time and time again heal the sick and the blind, to lift up the foreigner, and praise the poor.

We cringe when we hear it, but we cannot deny that he told a rich man it is harder to enter the kingdom of God than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. And of course, we know he marched right into Jerusalem and occupied it, only to be crucified by the Romans because he represented a threat of a riot.

What would Jesus do?

Suddenly, the occupiers don't sound so crazy anymore. They sound like prophetic Christians. They sound a lot like Jesus.

SARAH HALVERSON is pastor of Fairview Community Church in Costa Mesa.

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