"The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever." – 1 John 2:17
By now you have probably seen or heard the slogan "WWJD?" Appearing on bumper stickers, bracelets, necklaces and on a variety of trinkets, the letters stand for the phrase, "What Would Jesus Do?" The question is drawn from a book written three-quarters of a century ago by Charles Seldon entitled In His Steps. The author, a liberal Congregational minister and an advocate of "social reform", wrote a story in which the characters are faced with a variety of social situations and ask themselves, "What would Jesus do?"
Not bad–or is it? In a recent article in Viewpoint magazine, Gary Johnson suggests that most people don’t have much of an idea what Jesus we are talking about. Is it the Jesus espoused by Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, or the Jesus Muslims know?
Johnson contends that most folks wouldn’t much like the real Jesus, the One of whom Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John wrote–the One who spent long periods of time in prayer and denounced the religious establishment of His day in an unrelenting torrent of often harsh words tempered with the cold steel of truth. Yet this same Jesus tenderly held the children in His arms and blessed them saying, "Of such is the kingdom of heaven."
I agree with Johnson’s premise that a lot of us really don’t know much about the real Jesus–the One who lived among us for thirty-three years, who died at the hands of the Romans, but broke the shackles of death and rose again, literally, and full of life, after three days.
"What would Jesus do?" It becomes even more poignant when we realize it was He who taught that love is greater than hatred, that he who would save his life must be willing to give it up, that there is dignity in serving instead of demanding to be served, that there is virtue in touching the untouch-ables–the fallen of life, the poor and neglected, the not-so-charming people whose idiosyncrasies and habits make them less than delightful to have around. What Jesus taught runs counter to my culture, to my old nature and to what is the accepted norm of life today.
The real problem is not that we don’t know what to do, but that we don’t want to do it. It isn’t knowledge; it is commitment to doing right, to integrity and to truth.
Knowing what Jesus did and thereby understanding what He would do is a clear reflection of what God wills. The two are synonymous. In one of his letters, John puts it clearly. "The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever" (1 John 2:17).
Resource Reading: 1 John 2