What would Jesus do? Have you ever asked this question when faced with a difficult decision? I have asked it numerous times, and I know that many other people ask it also. Sometimes I find it hard to imagine what Jesus would do, particularly if I am asking a question from a woman’s point of view.
I found an interesting article by John Zmirak. He suggests that we read “a book that takes a sane and wholesome, even spiritual view of a deeply uncomfortable subject. So you will look with the eyes of reason and faith, but at something you’d rather not think about.” His article is titled “What would Jesus do to Nazi war criminals?” and can be found here.
Zmirak writes, “Recently I hunkered down to tackle a deeply disquieting subject: The nexus point of cheap grace, repentance and genocide. They all come together in Tom Townsend’s fascinating, carefully researched book Mission at Nuremburg. It tells the story of Henry Gerecke, a good-hearted Lutheran pastor who became an army chaplain during the Second World War, and got assigned to pastor some of the worst human beings on earth: the Nazi defendants at the Nuremburg war crimes trials. … [He] was an ordinary, middlingly-educated Lutheran minister from St. Louis. Most of his previous experience was with small-town Midwestern German-American farmers, and urban missions to the homeless – with some time spent in U.S. prisons ministering to run-of-the-mill criminals.
“Alongside equally ordinary Catholic chaplain Rev. Sixtus O’Connor – a humble Franciscan philosophy teacher from upstate New York – Gerecke was the man whom Providence placed in the cells that held Albert Speer, Heinrich Himmler, Julius Streicher, and the top Nazi generals who survived the collapse of the Reich….”
These two gentle souls were given the task to administer “counseling and services” to the prisoners, but “Gerecke knew that much more was asked of him than that. It was his job to confront men who had risen to the top of the world – gained wealth and fame and the power of life and death over millions – by discarding the Christian vision of human dignity, in favor of a pagan fetish of a single race and nation.”
Zmirak then proceeds to write a book review, and you can read his evaluation for yourself. I am most concerned with the question, “What would Jesus do to Nazi war criminals?” We could ask numerous but similar questions applicable to our day, such as, “What would Jesus do to terrorists who fly airplanes into buildings, killing thousands of people?” and “What would Jesus do to people who kidnap and rape young women and little children?”
I believe that Jesus Christ would meet with any and all of them because He loves each person. He would never condone their acts, but I believe He would solicit confessions from them. I believe He would express sorrow for their circumstances and give them whatever comfort and counsel that they would receive from Him. Then He would leave them to face the consequences of their actions as true justice demands. He would still love them, but He could never allow His mercy to rob the law of justice.
I believe that God expects each one of us to do as He would do. We are to love one another as He loves us. We should never take vengeance on other people, but we should allow the law to administer justice. In a coming day we will all stand before Jesus Christ to be judged of our thoughts, words, and actions. I believe that He will be just as merciful as He can be, but I know that He will never rob the law of justice. We will either have to accept Him as our Savior and Redeemer, or we will have to suffer for the things we do and say. That is how the laws of justice and mercy work.