What Would Jesus Do?

“Now what would Jesus do?” asked the one glancing at her WWJD bracelet.

“Grape nuts,” replied her companion instantly, as if she had served Jesus breakfast that very morning. I slipped away pondering how the will and the ways of the greatest political, religious and social reformer of all time got reduced to a formula for grocery shopping.

I am glad the use of these bracelets appears to be waning. It remains a great question, but wearing it on a wrist somehow suggests that the answer is easily accessible. It suggests that if you will simply stop and think a little, having eyed the bracelet, you’ll get the answer. Then, as you act on your new found knowledge, your predicaments will be resolved, you will have a better life, and conditions in the world will improve all around for everybody.

Quite the contrary: Answering the question and doing what Jesus would do in any situation is neither easily established nor executed. Finding the answer itself would take a lot of work, like tunneling back though a couple of thousand years, researching culture, geography and weather conditions and the political and religious climate. Then we’d have to identify, and then decipher, metaphor, understand and interpret tone and intent, and immerse ourselves in at least a few ancient languages.

Besides all this, we’d need a working knowledge of the subcultures and the prejudices that existed within those subcultures. Then, with all this done we might be able to decide what Jesus would do given some, but not all, situations we face.

The next challenge, once we’ve established the answer, would be to have the courage to do what Jesus would do. WWJD is not about “doing the right thing.” Jesus did not always do the “right” thing. If that were so, no cross would have awaited him. Doing the “right thing” would have endeared him to those who mattered and would not have required him to buck authority at all.

Essentially Jesus laid a platform for his followers to live differently. It doesn’t take more than a reading of the New Testament to see that he despised pretentiousness and empty religious “performance” and was particularly vocal wherever he found religious zeal that was without internal transformation. He despised abusive systems and was a particular critic of those who ripped off others.

I do not think Jesus cares what cereal you buy, or for that matter, what dress or suit you wear or how your hair is or is not cut. But I do believe he cared about what kind of person you are and whether you love mercy, humility, truth and justice, and challenge the systems where these qualities are absent.

It is apparently forgotten that Jesus was hardly a nice guy. Today he’d be a threat to our political order and might not be able to find a church he’d attend, let alone one that would have him preach! Consequently doing what Jesus would do could significantly reduce your popularity rating. The real question, by the way, is not “what would Jesus do” but rather what will you do now that you claim to know him?

Let’s shed the bracelets. It’s not grape nuts or cheerios, but love and truth, mercy and justice, that might bring us all a little closer to being what Jesus was. But be careful, you might shed the bracelet and exchange it for a cross – and it won’t be hanging around your neck.

9 Responses to What Would Jesus Do?

  1. Emily says:

    Hi Richard, I found your blog through Mark Wilson’s blog.

    Hard-hitting truth there! I definitely agree. I’ve never been a fan of the WWJD stuff, because IMO it sometimes gets people into self-righteousness, as if all they have to do to obtain right-standing with God is just do what Jesus would do. The whole point is that we couldn’t live like Jesus did – perfect lives – so God had to send Him to the cross to stand in our place. It’s not about what would Jesus do, buy rather what did Jesus do – he paid the penalty for our sins and thus gives us righteousness when we put our faith in Him! Now of course, as believers we are called to live holiness, to follow Jesus’ example, but that can only be done through the help of the Holy Spirit.

    Anyway, great post, and God bless.


  2. Grace, T says:

    how bout “what would I do if I allowed myself to be influenced by Jesus/Buddha/Ghandi/Eleanor Roosevelt/ insert influence here______”
    and looked inside instead of outside for help.

  3. Sarah says:

    If Jesus Was Here in the flesh, Would He still Keep the Seventh Day Sabbath???

  4. Mark Wilson says:

    Keep on keeping on Richard. Your thoughts, your posts and your blog are wonderful. Thank you!

  5. Jamie Marsden says:

    I think we are getting a little to serious about the wearing of the WWJD bracelet. I see a lot of young people wearing them and think it is wonderful that they wear them as a declaration of Jesus in their lives. To take it to the point that they are declaring themselves to be righteous is going a bit far. dont forget we are trying to reach people who still use the lords name as a exclaimation or swear word. Talking to people about what WWJD means helps change perpspectives.
    Dont over complicate things, I dont think Jesus would have done !!!!

  6. Phil Groom says:

    Thanks for this, Richard. Here’s a quote from Conrad Gempf that seems to be heading in the same direction: ‘If you’re willing to ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?” at some point you’ve got to face the fact that he deliberately set his face toward death.’ (Mealtime Habits of the Messiah, p.23-24).

    And here’s another question: Who would Jesus bomb? Available on T-shirts too…

  7. Neal says:

    I do not have a bracelet, but I see no harm with the bracelet. I see it as a daily reminder to do the right thing no matter how hard it may be. I also see it as a daily reminder that kindness and compassion trumps all the man made rules. If it helps people to focus on making the kind of decisions that Jesus made, I say God Bless them.

  8. Teddy says:

    How did it cost to start up this blog…I want to start my own.

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