A cartoon drawing of cars in a variety of shapes and sizes. Jesus is getting on a bus labeled "Mass Transit." Caption: What would Jesus drive?
Categories: The Parish Column


by Melanie Folstad

Very likely, you have come across this acronym before, often referring to “what would Jesus do?” However, some Eco Christians have suggested that it really stands for “what would Jesus drive?” It’s a rather interesting thing to imagine – Jesus tootling around the streets of Bethesda. Would he keep his composure in our traffic? Probably, although he is likely the only one.  

But what would he drive? Would it be a Prius? Toyota seems to think so, as the copy of one of their older ads reads:

“Some cars claim to stir our soul, but can one actually redeem it? The 2003 Toyota Prius can… Move forward with one of the most socially conscious vehicles on the planet. The environment will thank you. And so will your soul.”  

If only it were so easy to enter the kingdom of heaven…  

Perhaps it is a silly notion – “what Jesus would drive?” Some people say that Jesus wouldn’t drive at all: he would walk around in sandals the way he always did. Others have suggested he would rely on public transportation as a more environmentally sound alternative – and to hang with his “peeps.”  

Honestly, we don’t really know what Jesus would do and this is likely pointless speculation – and it may end up distracting us from being like Christ in ways that he really does want us to imitate him. However, the WWJD question does try to make a valid point. The choices we make really do matter – and that includes choices we make about how to get from point A to point B. Buying a car or not buying a car has implications. We are making a commitment about how much to spend, how safe our passengers will be and the resources we consume.

Sari recently spoke to us about contentment and convenience. Our transportation choices speak loudly about our feelings around contentment and convenience. We rarely stop to think about the transportation resources we are using – and perhaps squandering. God has given us resources to use for our lives and to his glory. However, our calling isn’t just to use the resources, but to care for them.  

I don’t think God gets mad at us for driving luxury vehicles or SUVs – if EPA ratings were all we needed to worry about, this would be easy! We need to consider safety, durability, size, price, and other practical considerations. We also need to determine when leaving the car in the driveway makes sense and public transportation, our feet, or a bike is a better choice. Different circumstances will likely yield different decisions. But it is important to note that car and air travel are the top sources of personal carbon emissions for U.S. families. Together, they account for one-fifth of the typical Montgomery County family’s yearly climate footprint.    

Churches and religious leaders worldwide are calling on people of faith and conscience to take bold and just action on climate change. The Episcopal Church’s presiding bishop, Bishop Curry, calls it “part of living as the Jesus Movement. It’s a promise to protect and renew this good Earth and all who call it home. It’s a promise to share our stories, stand with those who are most vulnerable, and live more gently on the Earth.”  

We all see where inaction takes us – a melting Arctic, burning Australia, and vanishing rainforests. But we are empowered to make changes in our own lives that bring hope and, collectively, meaningful change. Please join St. John’s Eco-Pledge for Hope by choosing one or more actions – just click here.

Regardless of your mode of transport or what eco-actions you determine best for you, may God be your co-pilot.