Do you remember the WWJD movement in the 1990’s? It began in America and spread through our country as well. Young people in particular wore these WWJD bracelets everywhere. WWJD stands for ‘What would Jesus do?’ and the intention was that the constant reminder of this question in our daily lives was supposed to help us ponder what Jesus would do in any particular situation.
This then prompted us to go and do likewise. That sounds like a pretty good way to live, right? Well, hundreds of millions of WWJD bracelets later, the Church is weaker and less effective than ever.
So what went wrong? Did we just lack the courage and commitment to act, once we worked out what Jesus would do if He were here? Or were we asking the wrong question completely and was that entire movement theologically flawed from the beginning? You could probably guess my answer. If, as the WWJD marketing campaign suggested, we think that we should pause at every key decision point in our lives and try to imagine what the Jesus of the gospels would do if He were here now and then imitate that, then that is a load of theological bunkum which will only produce powerless, frustrated, ineffective believers who inadvertently bring themselves and those they influence back under old covenant law.
Let me explain it this way. Who am I? I need to start there first. I am an English-speaking, Australian Christian; born in the twentieth century, living in the 21st Century. I am married, with five children and ten grandchildren; I live in a modern, technologically advanced western society.
Now by contrast, the Jesus of the gospels was an Aramaic speaking Jew, born in the first century; He was never married; had no children or grandchildren; He lived in a relatively primitive ancient culture and He was many years younger than I am now when He got himself killed. Now the only way those two human beings could be more different or more disconnected from each other is if one of us was a female!
I am sure that if Jesus the man showed up today in Australia and not in first century Palestine, then we may have something to work with here and if He did, I can guarantee the Gospels would be written very differently. But He didn’t. So I cannot even begin to imagine what someone born over 2,000 years ago in a different culture, a different society, a different religious environment might do if He was stuck in peak hour traffic in Sydney at 5pm – because Sydney didn’t exist in Jesus’ day, nor did cars, nor did aeroplanes, nor did the crazy lifestyle and culture and worldview of today. It’s like me trying to imagine what my great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather would do if he were here today sitting at my computer, looking at the internet. That’s a nonsense question!
Now you may be thinking, ‘Well that’s not what people mean here. They are not asking what would Jesus the man do in this situation, they are talking about Jesus the Christ. WWJD is not, “What would Jesus the carpenter do?” It is supposed to mean, “What would Jesus the Messiah do?” Ok. point taken, but does that make it better? Does that make any more sense? No! It makes it worse because it’s a load of theological nonsense.
Asking, ‘What would Jesus do if He were here?’ suggests that Jesus isn’t already here and it suggests that Jesus has not already done everything.
In the Kingdom of Heaven, where we live and move and have our being in Christ, through Christ and for Christ, the reality is that every single situation you and I will face has already been dealt with by Jesus! Every challenge you face in your life has already been overcome by Christ and in Christ. Every problem which presents itself today or tomorrow in your life has already been solved by Christ and in Christ and He is present now and active in our lives through His Spirit to bring the fruit of His finished work into our lives.
We are not called to imitate Jesus, we are called to surrender to Christ.
So maybe it’s time we started a new movement and manufactured some new bracelets with the acronym WHJD: What Has Jesus Done? The answer to that question will be: EVERYTHING.
Your salvation, your entrance into the Kingdom of God, your sanctification, your growth and maturity in your faith, your spiritual gifts and passion for ministry, your fruitfulness and joy in ministry, your faith, your courage, your healing, your wisdom and the revelation of God Himself … it has ALL been secured for you already, in Christ, through Christ and for Christ.
When Jesus hung on that cross and said, “It is finished,” He really meant it is finished. God’s reconciling work is complete, from God’s perspective and in God’s kingdom. Now you and I and all mankind are invited to believe, receive and walk in that reality. Believe the truth that Jesus has done it all for us and receive the fullness of God’s love and grace and presence and power.
Then, and only then, out of that abundance, out of that overwhelming experience of the love and grace and the presence of God, will flow faith, prayer, a passion for the Bible, a heart for people, a commitment to serve; your giving will increase in all areas of your life; your lifestyle and values will become more and more conformed to Christ in you, the hope of glory … and all of that will be the fruit of what you have received from God, Who is love.
None of that will be religious duty or well-intentioned good works done in the flesh. It will be the fruit of the Life that is within you, the Love that has been lavished upon you. Every imaginable spiritual discipline will emerge in your life with increasing measure without you straining, groaning or flogging yourself with guilt and shame. It will simply emerge as the fruit of God’s presence in your life, the natural and automatic outworking of God’s love deep within you.