Saturday, August 08, 2009


For no particular reason, or as my kids would say, randomly, I got to thinking about that slogan, and it occurred to me that if we were to ask that question honestly, we might come up with an answer rather unexpected by those who dreamt up that slogan years ago.

When it first came out--when was it, 1990's?--a bunch of Lutherans jumped on it and said woah, this is backwards, it's all law, and we need Gospel, so it should be WHJD: what has Jesus done? But of course to run around saying WHJD and making WHJD bracelets and whatnot would be to fall victim to the gimmickry which is just as much out of place as is a confusion of law and Gospel.

I much preferred the saucier kinds of retorts, viz., WWJD: We Want Jack Daniels, Willie Wonka Just Died, etc.

But actually if you take the question seriously: What Would Jesus Do? -- you could easily come to conclude that Jesus would not do the kind of things people wearing the bracelets might think he'd do. They suppose that when you think WWJD, you'll refrain from anger, or invective, or insentitivity, right?

But when you think about it in view of what the Gospels report, you could come to the opposite conclusion: Jesus would make a whip, turn over moneychangers' tables, and throw a fit. Or, Jesus would read his enemies the riot act: woe unto you, lawyers, etc. Or Jesus would say, "Leave the dead to bury their dead," not a particularly "sensitive" thing to say.

Jesus' demeanor was no-nonsense. WWJD? My guess is that he'd shrug and ask, "Why in the world are you wearing that silly bracelet? Follow me."


2nd man united said...

Yeah, the question assumes the questioner has sufficient knowledge and sufficient power to actually know the answer to the question and then to carry it out.

Instead, Jesus and the apostles taught that human minds and powers were totally inadequate to live as Jesus would (John 15:5; 2 Cor. 3:5; Romans 7, among many others). Therefore, one would not be able to take an approach to the Christian life that involved asking “What would Jesus do?,” finding out, and then proceeding to attempt to live that way. This would be like buying a golf book by Tiger Woods, reading it and then thinking that you’re going to be the favorite to win the Masters tournament this year. Reading Tiger’s book isn’t going to make you a better golfer any more than reading the menu at McDonald’s is going to make you a better hamburger.

Instead, Jesus and the apostles taught that Christ indwelled people and that His mind and power would emerge from and be manifested through individuals and groups that allowed God, Christ and the Holy Spirit to live with, in and through them. To apply this to our imperfect analogy, it would be like the spirit of Tiger Woods coming to live inside of you, taking complete control of your mind and body, and then playing golf through you. If this was possible, which of course we know it’s not, then you might have a shot at winning the Masters.

This is what sets Christianity apart from every other religion or worldview lifestyle. Instead of being a religion based on performance where the followers try to act and think like the leader, the leader actually lives inside of His followers, and they can exchange their natural abilities for His supernatural ability. One of the first followers of Jesus described his experience of Jesus living in, with and through him in the New Testament book of Galatians when he wrote “I am crucified with Christ. I am living, but it is no longer me that is living, but Christ is living in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Fr BFE said...

How wonderful. So, I'll just go out and look for a lake to walk on, and see if it works . . . ;)