Some 15 years ago one of the popular Christian expressions of faith was the WWJD bracelets that many people were wearing. The letters WWJD? stood for What Would Jesus Do?. At the time I was pastoring a church with a growing college population and many of our young adults wore these bracelets which gave them opportunities to share Christ with their friends. Many at the time didn’t realize that the question “What Would Jesus Do?” came from a book written by Charles Sheldon first published in 1897. That book entitled “In His Steps” has sold over 30 million copies and now ranks as the 39th bestselling book of all time. The story takes place in the fictitious town of Raymond when the pastor of 1st Church challenges his congregation to not do anything for one year without first asking “What Would Jesus Do?”. This question being raised by the church members then creates various and assorted problems for the church members when they apply the question in their decision making process.
The question itself “What Would Jesus Do?” is a great question but comes with an underlying assumption. That assumption is that we can know for certain in every situation what Jesus would actually do. Now I believe that the Lord Jesus speaks to us clearly by His words and by His own actions so that in many situations we can actually sense what Jesus would do. Certainly in moral and justice issues the Lord can speak to us by His own handling of those situations. Every communion week as I prepare for the service, I want the Lord to speak to my heart to challenge people about selfless service and sacrifice as is seen in Jesus’ example. We see in Jesus the model that we are told to follow when Paul tells us “to let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus”. In the 9th chapter of the book of Isaiah we see Jesus referred to as, “His name will be called wonderful counselor” (v.6). With many of the people that I have counseled with, I have challenged them to read John’s gospel with the question in mind as they read each chapter, “How does Jesus interact with the people He encounters in this chapter?” We can learn a great deal from Jesus’ dealing with Nicodemus in the third chapter of John’s gospel and the woman at the well in the fourth chapter of that gospel . Jesus certainly didn’t take a one size fits all approach to people ministry.
The problem arises with WWJD? question when we come to some profoundly difficult issues. WWJD if He had been one of the soldiers dropped into the compound this past Sunday in Pakistan to look for Osama Bin Laden or what if one of the soldiers had raised that question? I think the single most important qualifications to hear from God in these situations are to be indwelt by the written Word so that the Holy Spirit can guide our every step. We must be familiar enough with Jesus’ words and actions if we are to discern what Jesus would have us to do in any situation. Just a thought about WWJD.
For His Kingdom,
Pastor Rich Sivo