Do you remember the WWJD bracelets? They asked the question, "What would Jesus do?" I think they were meant to remind us to stop and think about our actions. As in you are about to say something hurtful to someone and you stop and ask yourself, "What would Jesus do?" It was a fad that lasted for some time and then disappeared.
Now, I am not proposing we bring back the WWJD bracelets. With all due respect to those who wore them, I thought they were superficial. I mean, do we really need a bracelet to remind us to act civilly toward one another? Really?
Given the ways we treat those with whom we disagree in public forums, I'm not sure a bracelet will suffice. So here is my proposal. If we wear any kind of bracelet to remind us of Jesus I think it should say, WDJD?
What DID Jesus do?
You see, I believe we have a much better guide to our behavior than to be asking what Jesus might do. We actually have an account of what he did do. So why don't we use that standard?
So to provide a primer on the things Jesus actually did I submit the following.
He spent most of his time with all of wrong people. The leaders of his church condemned him for "eating with sinners," and tax collectors, and lepers. For challenging church collaboration with the imperial powers of Rome, for talking about the Kingdom of God. He reinterpreted the Mosaic Law. In his Sermon on the Mount he repeatedly said, "You have heard it said...but I tell you..." He summed up the Torah in the commands to love God and neighbor and self. Love meaning to advocate for the well being of others. He told us to love even our enemies. Now, that's a difficult one, I know. But he said it. He told people that if they wanted to be a follower of his they had to take up their own cross. This is also a difficult one. What does that mean? Mark's gospel is clear that it means followers of Jesus are to challenge those political and religious powers working in collaboration in order to continually oppress the poor and disenfranchised. An example would be those Christians and so-called Christian politicians who work to prevent better wages, better health care, better family planning. The truth is those efforts target the most vulnerable in our society, those who have no voice. Jesus calls us to give them a voice, not to suppress it. Jesus was non violent, and practiced non-violent resistance with those who used violence against him. Martin Luther King knew that. So did Mahatma Gandhi. Jesus showed us that the greatest power in the universe is not violence. It is love. He said that God's love is for everyone. "For God so loved the world…” begins one of the best known verses in the New Testament. It doesn't say God so loved the church. Or only some people. It says God loves the world. I realize there are Christians who use this verse to imply the only way to heaven is by accepting Jesus as savior. That seems to be too simplistic an interpretation, one taken out of context of the whole passage. It is also a dangerous interpretation in that it has led to a misplaced self-righteousness on the part of many. They forget the next verse says God did not send Jesus to condemn the world. Fact, the whole sweep of the Biblical story is about God's work in reclaiming the world, healing its brokenness.
WWJD today? I think he would say to us Christians, “Just do what I told you."