Sometime in the late nineties I had my first encounter with the Christian WWJD meme. Of course, I had no idea what a meme was at that time, but I had never seen a WWJD bracelet before either. I asked the young lady wearing it what it meant, and was told it was intended to remind us to consider the question in any given circumstance, "What would Jesus do?" I felt humbled and surprised all at once,  which I think was partly the intent of the people promoting the question and the question-wear that accompanied it. Although I didn't buy any of the gear, I did begin asking the question, thinking that it gave me a reasonable guide for navigating the complex moral issues of the modern era.

About 8 years later I encountered a baptist preacher in a small town in a very rural part of the Deep South who caused me to reconsider the validity of such a question. As he put it, the one thing he was sure about regarding Jesus' ministry was that He rarely, if ever, did what people expected Him to do. I thought about that quite a bit as I was writing Way of the Messiah: Made in the Image of God. It occurred to me that his assessment was accurate. If people who knew Him personally couldn't guess His reaction to many things, how could we be so arrogant just because we have read about His ministry in the Bible as to think we could do better than they?

Think about it. Asking WWJD essentially functions as an algorithm for predicting whether God wants us to choose between options A, B, C, or n + 1. It is intended to function in place of any other guide for our daily actions and choices. The World, thinking Jesus nothing more than a good teacher and example for good deeds, might be excused for following such a guide, but the Christian led of God and guided by His Spirit can accept no such substitute.  

We are permitted to be guided by the question WWJHMD (What Would Jesus Have Me Do?) because it inquires of God, but never WWJD. We are not Jesus, and He is not some impersonal formula for always doing just the right thing. We might, in fact, be better off casting lots (just as the apostles did over Barsabbas and Matthias) because at least then God has control over a given outcome rather than our varyingly-flawed impressions about the predictability of Christ's nature, His choices and/or actions in any given situation. 

It was this awakening, therefore, that caused me to reject all -isms as philosophies constructed by men and not wisdom from God. Again, just think about it. If you choose to embrace any school of philosophy or thought in an attempt to define yourself as a Christian or to guide your course, you have essentially embraced the same fallacy as the WWJD team and those who've bound their fortunes to King-James-Only doctrines; you've chosen to allow a formula or algorithm to sit in the seat of judgment and discernment that ought only be occupied by wisdom granted by God assisted by the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And in this way we are shown that it is in fact okay to ask not WWJD, but rather WDJD (What Did Jesus Do?).

Jesus was led continually by the Holy Spirit. It was for this reason that He was able to function as a fully human being, limited by the flesh, but also as one privy to the moment-by-moment directions, knowledge, and wisdom of God the Father as revealed to Him by the Spirit. It was not simply a magic switch that Jesus flicked that allowed Him to change from limited man to omniscient god. Think about it. Consider it well. Why else would Jesus question Mary's choice to involve Him before His time one moment only to relent and act in a divine capacity in the next? Why else would Jesus tell His siblings that any time was right for them, refusing to go with them one moment, only to turn around and go immediately thereafter on His own? How else could Jesus know things only God would know one moment, such as the location of the coin He told Peter to take from the fish, and then not know something the Father knew on another occasion, such as the timing of His return? What Jesus did was to remain obedient always and to listen carefully to the guidance of His Holy Spirit while limited by the flesh as one fully human, and remaining no less all the while fully God.

When I wrote WOTM (Way of the Messiah), I worried that some would be tempted to take my words and use them to replace inquiring of God directly, just as some grasp after other systems of responding to God's Word. WOTM is not a system for responding to anything, but a revelation about the meanings of a great many things intended to help open eyes, ears, hearts, and minds to His Word and His Spirit. It is always tempting to put God in a box that makes Him safe for human handling, but anyone who attempts to do so will ultimately find that God can not be placed in any container, that He cannot be made safe for human handling, and that faith in Him cannot be shelved for times of need. Attempting to do so can only lead to sin and error. And all of this is knowledge given to me by God for the edification of His sheep. May you be edified, therefore, in His blessings and grace.

Ed MyersComment