Every day on the job as the Public Relations manager for Jesus would have been part comedy, part nightmare. The man was born without a political bone in his body.
To begin with, he had poor taste in friends. Case in point: the Jews detested the money-hungry, backstabbing tax gougers, but Jesus marches right up to one of those traitors and says, “Follow me.” He welcomed a zealot into his inner circle, even though those guys were the ancient equivalent of domestic terrorists. And the fact that he rubbed shoulders with women in the sex trade, Samaritan heretics, leprous pariahs, and other miscreants of society is well known. If the old adage is true, that if you hang out with dogs, you’re gonna get fleas, then Jesus must have been crawling with them.
There was also the ongoing problem with his unwillingness to keep his mouth shut. He told stories that were designed as attacks upon the most powerful men in the religious establishment. Many of his parables were the verbal equivalent of slapping the pope in the face. In one of his tirades, he went on and on about how these religious elites were nothing but attention-hungry, big-headed sons of Satan. Yet these men whom he attacked were the very ones who, if properly handled, could have been used to accelerate his career.
He also opened himself up to slanderous accusations. Because he hung out with the wrong crowd, he enemies mocked, “Look, a gluttonous man and a drunkard, a friend of tax-collectors and sinners!” (Matt 11:19). Imagine if Zaccheus, top dog among the tax-gougers, had taken a selfie with Christ at his dinner table and posted it on Jerusalem’s social media. Oh, the outrage! Jesus was ruining his reputation by not only welcoming, but actively seeking out, the wrong people.
And I won’t even go into the public embarrassment that must have ensued when he went berserk in the temple courts, upending tables, untying animals, and giving the crowd a tongue-lashing for transmogrifying his Father’s home into a business.
In short, from a PR perspective, Jesus chose the wrong friends and made the wrong enemies; opened himself up to a smear campaign; never learned to scratch the right backs; and sawed off any and every political limb he was sitting on. From a career perspective, he was a fool. From a religious perspective, he was a troublemaker. From a streetwise perspective, he danced with death. From a public relations perspective, he was a train wreck.
And from his Father’s perspective, he could do no wrong.
I never did care much for the WWJD question because Jesus is the poster child of unpredictability. If you ask me, “What would he do?” I’d say, “Probably what you would least expect.” He would ruin his reputation among religious folk by hanging out with those with soiled reputations. He would speak hard truth when soft, white lies would make life easier. He would touch lepers; compliment prostitutes and insult priests; flaunt his freedom in the face of legalists; and eventually get himself so deep in trouble that he ends up in handcuffs, in court, and onto a cross.
The wisdom of God will always look like foolishness to men. He is the God who chooses ungodlike ways to bring ungodly sinners into his kingdom of losers who get everything by grace. Jesus matches none of our expectations. Thank God he doesn’t. He befriends all of us, no matter who we are, no matter how ruined we are, no matter how good or bad we think we are. He call us, one and all, to himself, that in him we might become part of that motley crew of redeemed fools whom Jesus calls friends.