Pastor's Pastor

Pastor's Pastor: What would Jesus do?

Pastor's Pastor: What would Jesus do?

A few years ago it was hard to go anywhere without seeing a plethora of lapel pins sporting the letters WWJD, popular shorthand for a serious moral consideration: "What would Jesus do?" This continues to be one of the most important questions sincere followers of Christ can ask.

James A. Cress is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

A few years ago it was hard to go anywhere without seeing a plethora of lapel pins sporting the letters WWJD, popular shorthand for a serious moral consideration: “What would Jesus do?” This continues to be one of the most important questions sincere followers of Christ can ask.

This season, the lapel pin of choice seems to be a golden rendition of Moses’ two tablets of stone, indicating the wearer’s support for the Ten Commandments. This pin has been minted by the hundreds of thousands in preparation for the first annual Ten Commandments Day, slated (pun intended) for May 7.

The commission’s membership reads like a “Who’s Who” of conservative Christian and observant Jewish clergy, celebrities, and dignitaries. Last month I offered some observations on this upcoming day, especially from the viewpoint of those of us who have worked long in the arena of discussions regarding the validity and perpetuity of God’s law, including the seventh-day Sabbath of the fourth commandment.

Those observations included appreciation for those who have come lately to a solid endorsement of the Ten Commandments, which had often been decried as having been nailed to the cross or obliterated by Jesus’ resurrection.

I also offered some recommendations beyond sloganism, lapel pins, special agendas, or even commemorative events. These included emulate rather than legislate, repose rather than impose, show rather than tell, shine rather than whine, and motivate with love rather than law (article available at <www.ministerial association.com>).

Now, with particular reference to the fourth commandment and the biblical Lord’s Day Sabbath (the only one of the ten that has really divided sincere believers through the ages), please permit a few further thoughts on how to best commemorate the Decalogue.

Written in our hearts rather than on our lawns. The devout group in which our Lord grew up advertised the Ten Commandments constantly. They tied the Decalogue (in miniature, of course) to their foreheads and wrapped it around their wrists for all to see. And then Jesus came.

The Savior advocated a new covenant experience in which God would put His law in the minds of His people and write it on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). He promoted more than a lapel pin, more than a monument on the lawn of the county courthouse, more than an annual event. Jesus called His followers to a Spiritborn experience whereby hearts and minds once hostile to God’s law could be transformed by grace to the point where the Ten Commandments were embraced, internalized, and lived out in loving service to God and others.

A weekly celebration rather than a yearly festival. God certainly knows how to construct annual, or yearly, festivals. As part of the ceremonial ordinances, He instituted the Passover, the Feast of Tabernacles, and the Day of Atonement, for example. Scripture clearly notes, however, that these annual feasts were in addition to the weekly, seventh-day Sabbath of the Decalogue. “The Lord said to Moses, ‘Give the Israelites instructions regarding the Lord’s appointed festivals, the days when all of you will be summoned to worship me. You may work for six days each week, but on the seventh day all work must come to a complete stop. It is the Lord’s Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day to assemble for worship. It must be observed wherever you live. In addition to the Sabbath, the Lord has established festivals, the holy occasions to be observed at the proper time each year’ ” (Leviticus 23:1–4, New Living Translation).

Much confusion would be avoided and multiple blessings would be experienced if this clear distinction were maintained between the weekly Lord’s Day Sabbath and these annual feasts that foreshadowed Jesus’ sacrifice.

Don’t budge, but don’t judge. Any believer should worship according to their own convictions without attempting to impose those convictions upon others. While I am personally persuaded that the New Testament did nothing to remove or relocate the weekly Sabbath day (remember, Jesus’ instructions that His followers should pray that in times of future difficulty they would not have to flee during the extremes of winter or on the Sabbath), nevertheless, I am equally persuaded that my opinion should not control your behavior. Scripture is clear that I may not judge you, nor may you judge me in these matters (Romans 14; Colossians 2).

So, should we observe Ten Commandment’s Day? Yes! The answer is inherent in the query “What would Jesus do?” Jesus’ example (Luke 4:16) and the fourth commandment make it clear—“the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God.” It is Jesus’ day. And Jesus’ way!


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James A. Cress is the Ministerial Secretary of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

May 2006

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