WWJD? What Would Jesus Do? The question is just about as ubiquitous as the colourful plastic bracelets. Unfortunately, I don’t think the majority of the people asking the question would be happy with the answer.
The question, WWJD? is usually followed by the questioner citing Christ: You shall love your neighbour as yourself, (Mt 22:39) or Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. (Jn 13:34) The intended meaning being that if you are a true Christian, then you will let others do whatever they please, not hold them up to a moral standard; that love must somehow equal permission.
This endemic problem stems from contemporary society’s habit to read their own perspective and opinion onto the sayings of Christ instead of reading what Christ has to say onto their perspective and opinion. As Michael Coren so aptly put it in his book Heresy, people are looking for God the Grandfather (doting and obliging) instead of God the Father (wise and guiding, yet firm with His love). We seem to have forgotten that sometimes love has to say, “No.”
The people who trot out the question, What Would Jesus Do? enrobing themselves in what they perceive to be the love of Christ, a love which will let them do their own will instead of God’s, are usually surprised by Jesus’ stronger words of love and what one should do:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I have come not to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one letter, not one stroke of a letter, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, will be called the least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Mt 5:17-19)
Guiding us to follow the Commandments God set out in His covenant with His people. That by following His law we will come to know greatness in heaven.
Christ also stated:
I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. (Lk 12:49-51)
The fire Christ promises is to purge us from our sinful ways. The division He brings is between those who choose to follow Him and those who reject His law.
I know that much of what I have just written would come across as being hardhearted. That, according to what many people in the world say today, I am being un-Christian. The crux of my point here returns to what I have already said, when we quote Christ saying Love your neighbour as yourself ; are we reading our own perspective onto Christ’s words, or are we reading His words onto our perspective? Do we really understand the true meaning of God’s love?
Christ’s love for us desires to bring us to an eternal wholeness, and this is a love He calls us to share with one another. Christ’s love strives to bring us out of our sinfulness and into the light of His ways, and this is the love that He calls us to share with one another. Christ’s love accepts us for who we are, yet challenges us to change for the better, to go and sin no more; and this is the love He calls us to share with one another.
In this light when we are faced with a moral dilemma, What Would Jesus Do? is a legitimate question to ask ourselves, and others. The question calls us to a higher moral standard; a divine moral standard at that. WWJD? demands that we mirror Christ’s love by keeping others from harm, calling them from their sinful ways. Perhaps the hardest thing of all for us to do when we strive to Do what Jesus did; is to judge sinful actions without being judgemental of the sinner.
The next time someone trying to argue for permission for their sinful ways tries to take the ethical upper hand by asking WWJD? followed by the usual Jesus quote: Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another; I will answer them as Jesus did: You are wrong because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God. (Mt 22:29)