For the last several years, I’ve been seeing the acronym WWJD in more and more places. I can’t remember when I saw it first, but now it seems to be cropping up everywhere. The four letters stand for the sentence, “What would Jesus do?” The answer is to guide our behavior in a difficult decision.
I think this is the wrong question. Asking that question puts Jesus on my level. And Jesus is definitely not on my level.
To most of the nearly two billion Christians in the world, Jesus was God from the beginning. In the Gospel of John, the name used for Jesus is “The Word.” The Prologue to John reads, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. All things came into being through Him, and without Him not one thing came into being.”
Read that passage again, but this time substitute “Jesus Christ” for “the Word.” “In the beginning was Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ was with God, and Jesus Christ was God. All things came into being through Jesus Christ, and without Him, not one thing came into being.”
Most Christians believe that Jesus Christ was always God, and that when he was born of the Virgin Mary, He became truly human, not the other way around. He was always 100% God, and when He was born, He became 100% human. God and human, both at once.
Sometimes, we see Him as 100% human, such as when He wept when Lazarus died, when He asked His disciples if they had anything for Him to eat, or when He prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane that He might have the cup He had to drink pass from Him.
Other times, we see him as 100% God, such as when He stilled the storm, raised Lazarus from the dead, cured the lepers, gave sight to the blind man, was suddenly present in a locked room, and appeared as a blinding light to Saul on the road to Damascus.
What would Jesus do? When that question is asked, what we are really asking is, “What is it that we should do?”
When I was eighteen years old and canoeing, my friends and I were caught out on a lake in a storm. The wind was so strong that the sheets of rain were hitting us horizontally. Waves were washing over the bow and the gunwales. We were afraid we might capsize and be drowned.
What would Jesus do? Jesus would say to the storm, “Be still.”
What did we do? My friends and I paddled as hard as we could for an island where we could pull our canoe out of the water and build a warming fire.
There are hungry people. Jesus can pray over a few fishes and loaves and feed the multitude. He doesn’t tell the disciples, “OK, tell everyone to bring a can of food to donate to the Galilean Food Bank and they can get into the Sermon on the Mount free.”
There is no point in asking what Jesus would do in a given situation, because we can’t do what Jesus could do. What we really should be asking is, “What would Jesus want me to do.”
And Jesus has already told us what he wants us to do. Turn the other cheek. Love your neighbor as yourself. Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, visit the sick and imprisoned, welcome the stranger.
So, let’s all stop asking “WWJD,” and start asking “WWJWMTD.” Of course, that doesn’t fit as well on a tee shirt or on the seat of a pair of workout shorts, but that in itself might be an improvement.
Note: This article also appeared in “the Scribe,” the newsletter of Elim Lutheran Church, Volume 62, Issue 7, July 2012.