I think we heard it on the John Boy and Billy show.
It was back in high school, and I was driving to school with my brother while listening to our favorite redneck radio show. One day, they started making fun of some human efforts to walk on water. Apparently, there was some kind of tourist attraction somewhere, where a bridge was submerged just under water, so that people could walk across it and feel like they were walking on water, “just like Jesus.”
John Boy and Billy had a good time with that idea, laughing and repeating sarcastically, “Yeah, just like Jesus!” My brother and I got a kick out of it, and from then on, whenever we heard of someone doing something ludicrous in the name of Christ, we would look at each other and laugh, “just like Jesus!”
That picture of someone walking on a bridge and pretending they are walking on water makes a good object lesson for a lot of reasons. For one, I think it could be used to provide a vivid contrast between surface imitation and the inner transformation that God desires in us. But right now, what strikes me is the ridiculousness of trying to imitate Jesus in ways that you simply cannot.
Listening to the John Boy and Billy show was one thing I did back in high school. Another thing I did was wear a WWJD bracelet. I thought that trend was great, and I loved the idea of asking myself, “What would Jesus do?” and using it as a guide to life. I soon realized, though, that as much as I loved the idea in theory, it often fell flat in practice. For example, if I was getting dressed and wondering if my shirt was modest enough, I couldn’t find much help from “WWJD.” I doubt Jesus ever wondered if His shirt was modest enough. He wasn’t a girl. And there were several other issues and decisions I made that I seriously doubt would have interested a Galilean carpenter in the least.
The thing is, I wasn’t Jesus. I wasn’t going to walk on water, or clear the Temple, or heal people, or go around teaching as a lifestyle. And so, if I was going to live the way Christ wanted me to live, I was going to need a little more than an interesting thought experiment in which I mentally replaced myself with a 2,000 year old Jewish man and acted accordingly. I needed a larger framework, a larger code of ethics around which to order my life.
That’s one of the (many) reasons I have fallen in love with the idea of the kingdom of God. I have read the New Testament several times in the last few years, and the kingdom of God is the one idea that has jumped out at me over and over again. Jesus’ teachings about the kingdom of God provide the paradigm that can center one’s whole life, every moment, around God’s will. It gives me a whole new way of looking at the world, one that is radically different, from both the prevailing culture and my own selfish practicality.
In the next few days, I am going to explore the idea of the kingdom of God in a series of posts called, “Citizenship 101,” which will hopefully become the backbone of this blog. Although Jesus talks about it a lot, there is much debate about what it is and how fully it is present in this world. In fact, despite the fact that I have studied the idea of the kingdom for a few years now, I myself am often torn in my opinions, and I welcome lots of feedback and differing ideas. I would love to hear from some of my sisters and brothers, to see what they think of this radical, often controversial kingdom that Jesus spends so much time talking about.