Continuing from Part 1...3) Asking the wrong person.
When you ask "What Would Jesus Do?" who are you asking? I'd say most people are asking themselves. And they then sit and try to imagine Jesus in the situation.
I think a lot of people get into trouble when they try to think like God. People who say, "Well, God is loving, so he couldn't possibly punish anyone," or "Well, God is our Father, so he must want us to grow up and do our own thing without him," or anything that sounds like "Well God has
to be/do/think X, because it's the only way that makes sense."
The thing is, we're six-year-olds trying to understand the mind of the grown-ups in the next room. No, not even that. We're arachnids trying to understand the entymologist. When we conjecture about what God thinks, we are all kinds of likely to get it wrong. How can the finite understand the infinite--except insofar as the infinite chooses to reveal himself to the finite?
(Another great verse: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding... In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths."
And that's the key. Jesus didn't leave us alone, remember? "And lo I am with you always," sound familiar?
Instead of asking WWJD, why not ask JWWYHMD? (Jesus, What Would You Have Me Do?)4) Jesus' Example: Insufficient Data
Very much related to point #3.
When most people ask themselves "What Would Jesus Do?" they look at Jesus' life for an example. They look at Jesus' own actions to see what similiar actions they should take.
This becomes problematic. We don't know certain things about Jesus' life. Jesus didn't encounter other things. And also, there's the problem that Jesus was, you know, God. Watch as we try to answer the following scenarios, not using any of Jesus' teaching
, but only Jesus' example
.Scenario #1: A young Christian college student is aggresively confronted about his faith by his agnostic philosophy professor. The professor berates him for the hypocrisy of Christians, and how Christians tell people not to sin when most Christians are secretly just as "sinful" as their "heathen" neighbors. Making it personal, this professor tells the student that he himself is being hypocritical by claiming Christianity. Red-faced, the student rallies his thoughts by thinking, "What Would Jesus Do?"
Dude. Jesus would be able to refute the accusation of hypocrisy being that he was the only one who actually lived up to Christianity's standards. Our hapless college student can make no such claim. Also, Jesus would do one of those crazy twist-your-accusation-back-onto-you things like he was always doing to the poor Pharisees. Our college student isn't that clever. WWJD FAIL!Scenario #2: A Christian working mother feels taken for granted by her husband. Her husband expects dinner ready and piping hot at the very moment he comes home, regardless of the demands of her own job or their childrens' extracurricular activities or her general lack of time. He berates her if he finds dinner unsatisfactory. Put off by this insensitive display, the mother asks herself, "What Would Jesus Do?"
Okay, problem. Jesus was never married, nor was he a parent. And, regardless of what some of the more out-there scholars say, he was not a woman. Thus, he has nothing in his recorded actions that directly applies to this situation. WWJD FAIL!Scenario #3: A Christian on his way to work encounters a homeless man, and is about to offer him his own lunch. However, across the street he sees another homeless man. How can he offer his lunch to this one and ignore that one? Perplexed, he thinks to himself, "What Would Jesus Do?"
Jesus would break the sandwich up and have enough pieces to feed the whole neighborhood. This dude, presumably, can't do that, barring divine intervention. WWJD FAIL!
Of course, in both of these badly-written cliched scenarios, there are elements of Jesus' teaching that apply to the situation. But there is nothing in Jesus' examples that is relevant.
Perhaps, rather than WWJD?, we should ask ourselves WDJSTD? (What Did Jesus Say To Do?) from The Order Of The Stick #735) In Summation
As disciples of Jesus, we should be becoming more like Jesus. We should be helping the poor, we should be visiting the sick, we should be bringing light and life to those in darkness. I'm not by any stretch saying that the American church is justified in sitting back on its butt and "thinking holy thoughts" while the world tears itself to pieces around it. We are called to be disciples, and that means our faith better be producing action.
on externals, example, and our own understanding simply will not work. We cannot take the example of Jesus without the teachings of Jesus; we cannot understand Jesus without listening to what Jesus said about himself; we cannot make
ourselves be like Jesus without Jesus himself showing us how.
I'm worried that WWJD? takes the necessary presence of Jesus himself out of the equation. And if we do that, we may find ourselves serving the dead embers and ash of religion rather than following the vibrant and living Person at Christianity's core.