Several years ago the “big thing” in the Christian world was the WWJD movement. If you were attending a church during that time (and even if you weren’t) you probably remember people wearing the little WWJD bracelets. There were also WWJD bibles, albums, videos, books and every other type of marketing material. Though associated with the 1990’s I have seen references to WWJD as early as the 1970’s so the term has existed for quite a while.
While I have no real issue with the movement, and while I realize that it did make an impact on many people, I find it amusing that it really is built on some poor theology. The question of “what would Jesus do” is not as relevant to our lives as some people would have us think. I am going to give three reasons for this:
Jesus lived and died at a different time in redemptive history. Jesus was born under Law and was subject to the law. Jesus was required by God to perfectly keep all of the Mosaic laws and ceremonies. He had to keep each feast day and was responsible for holding to the smallest jot and tittle of the law. It was not until His cry of “It is finished” that He freed us from these obligations. You and I, of course, have been born under grace and have to obligation to observe the Mosaic law. We live in a whole different era.
So what would Jesus do on the Sabbath? What would Jesus do on the day of the Passover? The answers to these questions would be vastly different from what you and I should do.
Jesus had a different purpose. Jesus came to the earth for a specific purpose and with a specific God-given mission. Needless to say, you and I have an entirely different purpose and mission. Where Jesus’ purpose was to live a perfect life and then take our sin upon Himself in death, our purpose is to live for God’s glory. We are to be God’s ambassadors to a fallen and dying world. Jesus lived to die for this fallen world.
“As a lamb before its shearers is dumb” Jesus refused to allow Himself to be tried before the authorities of the day. Does this indicate that we are to follow His example?
Permissible versus obligatory. There is another point which is important to consider. While everything Jesus did was, at that time permissible, not everything was obligatory. Not everything Jesus did applies to us today. Jesus ravaged the tables of the merchants and money-changers in the temple, but does this give us an obligation to do the same at our local Christian bookstores? Would it even be permissible for us to do this? Before you do it, I recommend asking your local police about the possible ramifications of destroying the merchandise!
What Jesus requires of us is different from what God required of Him and what He required from Himself. So perhaps the more pertinent question to ask yourself is this: what would Jesus have me do? If you saw that Jesus was looking over your shoulder while someone blasphemes His name, what would Jesus want you to do? If you were having a bad day and yelled at your child when he made a childish mistake, how would Jesus have you react if you knew He was standing in the room with you?
While your answers to “what would Jesus do” and “what would Jesus have me do” may be the same, at least one is more theologically correct!