The “What Would Jesus Drive” Campaign

A 9 to 5 Editorial 

By now you’ve probably seen the ads, or at least heard about the controversial campaign. “What would Jesus drive?” asks an empathetic voice as the viewer is treated to images of a prayerful, reflective Christ, facing heavenward. At first glance, it has all the markings of yet another transparent attempt to use our Savior to advance a political agenda.

Over the past few years, we’ve increasingly witnessed the brazen, shameless exploitation of Jesus for promotional purposes. “How would Jesus vote?” is the loaded question now asked openly by folks on both sides of the political aisle. “Would Jesus be in our parade?” query gay-rights activists, quickly assuring us that he would be leading the parade. “Would Jesus change the Georgia state flag?” He would according to Georgia’s governor Roy Barnes. “What would Jesus do as a CEO?” asks Jesus CEO author Laurie Beth Jones, only to respond with 318 pages of dubious theology and sketchy hermeneutics.

So now it’s “What would Jesus drive?” We Christians have rightly learned to be suspicious of such campaigns. Some behind this particular effort are avowed earth-worshippers, people who, if they owned a Bible, would use it to kill roaches running across their granola-laden kitchen counter. They should not be permitted to touch – much less alter – our worldview.

But at the same time, there are some legitimate, Bible-believing scholars and pastors who are also behind the wheel of this initiative – people like Richard Mouw (President of Fuller Seminary), Vernon Grounds (Chancellor of Denver Seminary), and Ron Sider (President of Evangelical for Social Action). What that means is that for this particular campaign, there may in fact be a baby mixed in with the polluted bathwater.

While some of us, Christianity 9 to 5 included, will surely question whether Jesus would condemn sport utility vehicles (as the campaign confidently asserts), it is possible that there may be some vehicles that Christians should not drive. A few years ago, I saw, in my church parking lot, a top-of-the-line Mercedes sporting a Christian fish symbol containing the letters “WWJD” (D as in do, not drive). I wondered if the owner really thought that Jesus would buy a $130,000 Mercedes. Somehow, I can’t see Jesus doing that (surely Jesus wouldn’t buy anything more expensive than the Volvo that I own!).

But if that’s true, if Jesus wouldn’t buy a car for six figures, then it means there’s a line – a line between acceptable and unacceptable cars for us to purchase as Christians. Taking that theory to its logical extreme, if there’s a line for cars, then there must be a line for other products and services as well. Would Jesus buy an extravagant house? Would he plunk down three bucks for a pack of smokes? Would he buy a mutual fund that invests in companies that give to pro-abortion groups? Would he buy diamonds or designer clothing? The answers are not self-evident, but the questions are imperative for us to consider.

No doubt, the weakness of the WWJDrive campaign is its summary indictment of SUVs and other gas-guzzlers. The scientific jury is still out on the extent to which global warming is happening, much less whether these vehicles contribute to it. But the virtue of the campaign is that, if nothing else, it reminds us Christians to think about God’s will for how we steward the resources that He has so generously provided.