I'm just guessing here, but I assume that you remember or at least have seen these intitials:
As you may recall, the letters originally stood for the question - What Would Jesus Do?
Of course, as our culture is prone to doing, a number of alternate "questions" involving this concept soon followed – posing incredibly deep inquiries like: "what would Jesus drive?," "we want jelly donuts," and "what would Scooby Doo?" (ooo-ooo! I know…he would say "Rats Roovy!")
You may also remember that the WWJD question turned into a near lunatic craze that spawned a marketing, merchandising, and money making enterprise that swept the nation. Bumper stickers, T-shirts, and bracelets, oh my! Yes, I was thinking the same thing – how ironic that the movement that posed a soul-searching question would be turned into an adventure in materialism… "Rut-ro Shaggy!"
The worst part about the merch craze was that it made the question so common as to almost be comical, and the fact that it was popular inspired people who couldn't care less about Christ on the inside to wear WWJD on the outside.
But that was then, and this is now. Now that the money changers have left the temple, I propose we bring WWJD back…but this time not in bracelets and bumper stickers, but in actions and attitudes. Why? Well, in case you didn't know this, the WWJD question did not begin in the late 1980's - early 1990's. In fact, its origins aren't even from this century! In 1897 a pastor named Charles Sheldon wrote a book called In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?, which went on to sell millions of copies and inspire a good portion of the world to take Christ's example seriously. The book is basically the story of a church whose pastor was profoundly impacted by the death of a homeless man who he and the church had turned down for help. One Sunday, instead of a pre-planned sermon, he threw out this challenge:
"I want volunteers from the First Church who will pledge themselves, earnestly and honestly for an entire year, not to do anything without first asking the question, 'What would Jesus do?' And after asking that question, each one will follow Jesus as exactly as he knows how, no matter what the result may be…Have I made my meaning clear? Our motto will be, 'What would Jesus do?' Our aim will be to act just as He would if He was in our places, regardless of immediate results. In other words, we propose to follow Jesus' steps as closely and as literally as we believe He taught His disciples to do…"
The book goes on to detail the life-changing impact on those who took his challenge seriously. In the end, an entire town was deeply and profoundly touched by the brave folks who said no to "what would I do?" and yes to "what would Jesus do?."
When you think about it, isn't this simple four word question the very essence of the Christian life? At least that's what God thinks:
But those who obey God's word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did. (1 John 2:5-6)
To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:21)
The original word for "in his steps" here literally pictures footprints that we are supposed to follow. In other words, the "what would Jesus do?" question is not an option, it is the only option. Every thought, every word, every action and reaction should first go through the filter of how Christ would handle a situation – and when you think about it, this is not a complicated filter. Why? Because you have the Holy Spirit living inside you:
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. (John 16:13)
Think about it – you don't need to wear WWJD on your wrist on a bracelet; because God has tattooed it on your heart through His presence. The key is simply to hit the pause button in your mind, and consider your attitudes and actions in light of how Christ would handle the same set of circumstances. And if you are having doubts as to what that would look like, just ask Him!
Of course part of accurately answering "what would Jesus do?" is highly dependent on an accurate picture of Christ in the first place – which can only come from studying Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. So really, the first step in following in His steps goes like this:
How can I answer "what would Jesus do?" Simple … read what Jesus did!
After that, the rest is up to you … but I guarantee if you take this question seriously, you will seriously impact the world for eternity…
Just like Jesus did!
Lane Palmer is the Youth Ministries Specialist for Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with to provide resources for youth leaders and students. Dare 2 Share exists to energize and equip teens to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries or the GameDay youth conference tour, please visit www.dare2share.org. Send feedback to email@example.com.