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The Myth Of WWJD

WWJD? What, indeed, would Jesus do? The sentiment behind this slogan, while admirable, misses some critical points. The spirit behind the sentiment assumes that it has worth by itself in the life and ministry of a Christian. Worth here is defined as real change, impact, power, and real action. In this light, this slogan is lacking.

What it has missed, Dallas Willard points out, is the discipline and preparation Jesus underwent to be able to achieve the things he did. We can’t assume that when we’re confronted with a difficult question, situation, or mission, that we’ll be able to respond like Jesus merely by whispering to ourselves, WWJD. This is nonsense

Willard writes:

Asking ourselves “What would Jesus do?” when suddenly in the face of an important situation simply is not an adequate discipline or preparation to enable one to live as he lived. It no doubt will do some good and is certainly better than nothing at all, but the act alone is not sufficient to see us boldly and confidently through a crisis, and we could easily find ourselves driven to despair over the powerless tension it will put us through.

Jesus expects real change in his followers. He invites us to join a life of abundance and grace, where rivers of living water flow out of our bellies. We are promised that from out of the very core of our being we will respond to the world, just like Jesus. In fact, Jesus says, we’ll do even greater things.

Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.

But how is this possible? It’s possible, argues Willard, through doing what Jesus did to prepare – fasting, prayer, solitude, service. But, many argue, this sounds like “works.” I thought we were saved by grace? This is true, but we cannot bury our “talents” in the dirt. We are to grow and cultivate our lives to model Jesus, right now.

Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson


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  1. Susan L. says:

    Before we can ask ourselves “What would Jesus do?” we must first have an idea of what, in fact, He would do. In order to know, we must take the time to educate ourselves…by reading scripture, listening to trusted ministers, and yes, praying, fasting, and pondering. Like everything else in life, we won’t get results unless and until first we act…and the results will be commensurate with our actions.

    And while we will indeed be saved by grace, we will be judged by our works.

    Thank you for your wonderful posts; they are always thoughtful and thought-provoking.

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