What would Jesus do?
I have never liked that slogan. Even growing up throughout the nineties when I participated in Fellowship of Christian Athletes and spent every free moment at somebody’s church, the slogan rubbed me the wrong way. I hated the t-shirts, bumper stickers, the little rubber bracelets that people used without even bothering to heed the intent of the message, let alone think about what the message represented.
Without having the words to say so, I thought it super presumptuous and not a little bit proud. And as I have gotten older, my thoughts haven’t changed much. If anything, my view on the WWJD craze and continued use of the phrase has evolved and solidified as I have searched the scriptures for myself. This notion that I need to wonder what would Jesus do flies in the face of what I hold to be true–the infallible Word of God. I don’t need to ponder what would He do. I know what He did.
He healed the sick.
He raised the dead.
He fed the hungry.
He taught the masses.
He counseled the confused.
He rebuked the scoffer, the religious, the vain, and the stingy.
He showed mercy where none was otherwise available.
He comforted the mourning, even taking time to cry with them.
He spoke of and brought with Himself peace.
He walked in love.
He gave His life.
In a word: Jesus served.
More to the point, I never need to wonder what Jesus would do, because He made it pretty plain what I should do.
“Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.”
Matthew 25:34-40 KJV
With that one fell swoop, Jesus killed any notion of what He would do; He told us all very plainly what to do: SERVE.
Yet, as we have allowed pride and personal motive to creep into our increasingly religious churches, we have honored our opinions as the same as His. And what I mean by that is really simple: by placing the “would” where the “did” should be, we have given ourselves equality with God.
We think that we can measure God’s expectations with our own sticks, effectively denying the reality that our humanness makes us shortsighted and selfish. When we say “what would Jesus do”, we give place to this idea that we can judge rightly when we cannot. We make space for our own feelings, interpretations, and desires when Jesus already accounted for that and took it out when he said, “Unto the least of these.”
I pray that we reevaluate this attitude that we can assume what Jesus would do and come to a place of repentance where we know for sure that Jesus has given us power, privilege, and position to do His will–to feed the hungry, cloth the naked, visit those in prison, take care of the widow and the orphan, to love one another wholy and holy.
And I pray that when judgment day comes, we are not measured with the same short stick that we use to damn everybody else.