Raise your hand if you know what “WWJD” stands for? OK….most of you.
WWJD stands for “What Would Jesus Do.”
This question originated when Charles Sheldon wrote the book in 1897 called “In His steps” with the subtitle: What Would Jesus Do?
A few years back it’s made popular in Christian circles and now you can find it everywhere…there are WWJD bracelets…bumper stickers…t-shirts…mugs….doggie sweaters…even tattoos. You see WWJD everywhere.
As I said, it stands for “What Would Jesus Do?”
Doesn’t it sound good? Doesn’t it sound noble? Just ask yourself in every situation “What would Jesus Do?” and you’ll end up being a pretty good Christian!
Let me tell you…it’s a whopper!
What’s the problem with this saying? The problem is that it is NOT Biblical!
Here are 3 reasons why asking yourself WWJD is simply a bad idea.
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Firstly, the problem with this type of thinking is it makes you think of Jesus like a guy from the past who was a cool guy, a nice guy, who did a lot of “good things”…but NOW He’s dead.
Now all you should do is look back in time, use the Bible or whatever to see how Jesus acted and think “if Jesus was still around He would [fill in the dots].”
The question WWJD implies: what would Jesus do if He was here. The reality is, Jesus is here! The truth of the matter is: Jesus IS still around! And He’s in the spirit of every believer.
The Bible proclaims this wonderful, amazing fact, that we as believers are in Christ… and He is IN us.
1 Cor 6:17 says it like this:
But he who unites himself with the Lord is one with Him in spirit.
And so the Christian life is NOT about “acting” like God… or “imitating” Christ…or “mimicking Christ or trying to be a “good person.” No!
That type of Christian life is never satisfying. It leads to feeling like you’re never measuring up, that you’re never good enough, you’re incomplete, basically you end up thinking “being a Christian sucks!”
With that approach you’ll not experience the abundant life that Jesus promises in John 10:10.
And there is no “inexpressible and glorious joy” that the Bible promises in 1 Peter 1:8.
The Christian life is not about “copying Christ” or trying to be a good person, but about Christ expressing Himself through you each and every day.
You see, the Christian life is not a life of imitating the life of Jesus.
The Christian walk is a life of participating in the life of Jesus allowing Him to animate our choices and actions, so that the behaviour of our lifestyle is an expression of the life of the indwelling Christ.
F.J. Heugel said,
We have conceived the Christian life as an imitation of Christ. It is not an imitation of Christ. It is a participation in Christ. For we have become partakers of Christ.
Different religions see Jesus as a moral teacher, a guide or a prophet that you should imitate as a model. But He did not bring a formula or model for you to repeat.
Jesus did not come to be your example. He came as your substitute.
Jesus would do for you what you could not do yourself. He stepped into your place and be you substitute dying for you and as you. Bearing the punishment that was yours to take. He became you and died as you.
Jesus became and is your substitute in all things so you don’t have to imitate Him, but can just be like Him because you are Him!
He became sin so you could be holy.
He was broken so you could be whole.
He was a man of sorrow so you could have joy.
He fasted so you could feast.
By His stripes you were healed.
He bore poverty so you could righteously prosper.
He felt orphaned so you could be adopted as sons.
Let’s begin to see Him not someone to imitate as the WWJD slogan suggest but as one who stepped in and took our place.
Jesus doesn’t want us to imitate Him. Jesus wants us to incarnate Him.
Man-made religion is based on imitation. So is the law. So are dead works.
Imitation uses our own “flawed” human faith to live by. Incarnation uses “the faith OF the Son of God,” to “live by” (Gal. 2:20).
We are not imitating Jesus. We are expressing Him – His very presence!
Imitation can be performed in His absence. Incarnation can only be catalysed by His ACTUAL presence.
THAT is incarnation.
The second reason why the WWJD phrase misses the mark is because it assumes that we would know what Jesus does in a situation if we look back to the historical Christ and try to guess.
When you read the New Testament He always did unpredictable things. Jesus was always surprising in His actions, especially to the religious leaders of the day.
How astonished they were when they thought they were being “good” and “religious” and pleasing God, and then Jesus turned their self assumptions about righteousness upside down when He introduced His law of love for God and others.
Heck, even the disciples who lived with Him and followed Him around everywhere didn’t know what He was going to do. He always surprised and frustrated His disciples.
He spoke when they thought He shouldn’t speak.
He would keep silent when they thought He should speak up.
He would go to one place when they thought He shouldn’t go there and then He would not go to another place when they believed He ought to go there.
So to guess what the historical Jesus would do? The disciples couldn’t even guess it and they lived with Him, so what makes us think we would know that?
Here’s the third reason why it’s not good for your belief-system and your health to ask yourself WWJD.
Even if you did somehow know, in each and every situation, exactly what Jesus would do…do you think you’re good enough to live like Christ? By what power would you do those things Jesus would do? What power do you have on your own to act like Him?
If someone was beating you…spitting in your face…ripping out your beard…spilling your blood…ripping your flesh… cursing you and your God…mocking you…all while you had the power to end the entire, terrible ordeal in just seconds and wipe them all off the face of the earth.
All while you knew for a fact that the majority of people living on earth for ages after you wouldn’t even accept your gift of salvation in their human lives…
Do you think you could not retaliate, and instead bless them, telling your father “Don’t hold them accountable – forgive them – because they don’t know what they’re doing”? No!
The truth is, you and I can do nothing apart from Christ (John 15:1-8).
It would be the highest form of narcissism to think you could do it, you could live like Christ when the Bible says you can’t.
So it’s the height of arrogance to think you could do what Jesus did…that you could live like Jesus when the Bible says you can’t.
So what’s the answer?
Instead let Christ live through you. Let Him express Himself through you. How?
It’s simple really.
- Yield to Him living through you, choose to let Him do this.
- Believe by faith that He is doing it each day moment by moment.
- Watch as love is expressed through your life each day, moment by moment.
- If you see yourself getting in the way, your self-absorbed, “fleshly” tendencies blocking this love, recognize it, thank God for showing you… and…start at step 1 again.
So stop thinking in terms of “What would Jesus Do?” WWJD is a human using human energy to try to live the Christian life. It’s like a turkey trying to live like an eagle. And, it crushes your faith.
But…if you still want to use this silly acronym…if you still want to keep all your bracelets, tattoos, bumper stickers, etc… then go ahead and instead think “Watch What Jesus Does!” through you each and every day as you submit to His will by faith. Instead think…
When you are led to talk to someone, Watch What Jesus Does.
When you lay hands on the sick, WWJD.
When you say “demon come out” WWJD.
When you say “storm be calm” WWJD.
When you pray for your child WWJD.
When you say “lame man rise and walk” WWJD.
When you confess God’s Word into your situation, WWJD!
You get the point.
Rest me to say, keep your eyes on Jesus, with whom nothing is impossible!
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