It’s Easter, folks. Today, we’re going to talk about ‘WWJD?’ For those of you who don’t recognize what ‘WWJD?’ means (and I doubt there are many who don’t, whatever your beliefs), ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ has been tattooed in its shortened form on bracelets, T-shirts and trapper-keepers, has adorned necklaces and earrings and has even found its way onto highway billboards and old barns. In the south it quickly became almost as ubiquitous as ‘See Rock City!’, or the more religiously driven but somewhat misguided instruction: ‘Don’t Go To Hell!’ For a while, you could take a road trip from Memphis to the Carolinas and find a hidden message that lay waiting for the patient and attentive eye: ‘Don’t Go To Hell!’, ‘WWJD?’, ‘See Rock City!’. Whether Rock City enjoyed a boost in tickets sales due to overzealous wanderers is beyond me, but I like to think it did. And you should see Rock City, by the way. It’s lovely.
But what I want to talk about today has nothing to do with Rock City or other natural wonders. ‘WWJD?’ was, and is, an ethos. It’s a mighty fine one, I might add. The idea is to remind yourself when you find that you’re in a potentially compromising situation, ‘WWJD?’ ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ If JC were there (and I mean like actually physically, corporeally there and confronted with a decision, okay?) and presented with the options you are being presented with, what would He do? As a Christian it’s an important question and one we should ask ourselves constantly. So you go, ‘WWJD?’. Rock on.
Might I add something to this though? It wouldn’t even change the letters, and no one would have to go out and by a different piece of jewelry to express this sentiment. My suggestion is, in fact my challenge is, that we look at these four letters and ask ourselves not only, ‘What Would Jesus Do?’, but also, ‘What Wouldn’t Jesus Do?’ Now, you may be saying, ‘Peter, that’s covered under the original question. Why do we need another one?’ Well, I’m glad you asked that, hypothetical straw-man. Why do we need to ask ourselves what Jesus wouldn’t do? I imagine most of you know why. I imagine most of you realize exactly why this question is important. Keep that in mind for the next couple of minutes because this is not intended to be an anti-Christian rant. It is intended to be an observation. It’s one that many before me have made, but I decided I wanted to say my peace as well.
Christians are called to love and accept their fellow men and women, no matter what. Yes, I know, I’m stating the obvious. Of course, that’s what Christianity is all about-nurturing a relationship with God through Jesus and becoming more like Him while doing it, and God, naturally, is love. Plus, Jesus accepted everybody, even dirty fisherman, and He defended adulterers from being stoned to death and all of that jazz. So why even bring it up? Silly, I guess.
Wait, you’re saying you didn’t know that? You thought that Christians were supposed to judge others and exclude them and even occasionally beat them? You thought that Christ’s teaching was about why gay people are wrong and poor people are degenerates and rugged individualism is the only way to truly make God notice and love you? Wherever did you get that impression? From Christians you say? The ambassadors of God and Christ? Wait, but these aren’t Christians, are they? Surely you must mean Catholics. Or Baptists. Or those messed up Presbyterians. Not Christians, though, right? You say the guy who punched you in the face and told you to go back where you came from because of your skin colour was wearing a ‘WWJD?’ bracelet? And the girl who called you a whore and a murderer because you got raped and are considering an abortion had a cross around her neck? You say you heard a preacher use the word ‘hate’ about a person and not about sin? Well, I stand corrected. I guess we Christians really have been sending mixed messages.
So Christians, let’s look at ourselves. And I mean every one of us. I bet most of you have never gay bashed anyone or yelled ethnic slurs at someone to their face. But have you told a homeless person to ‘get a job’? Have you turned your back on a friend when you found out that he or she wasn’t like you? And I don’t mean that they sacrifice goats to Satan, I mean like they are of a different religion, of no religion, or worst of all that they go to a different church than you do. Have you withheld love from someone who needed it? Because it’s all the same to God. That girl who had sex with her boyfriend last night is the same girl she was yesterday morning. She is not a whore. And the boyfriend is not a hero. Was it a sin? Maybe that’s a question that we should reserve for ourselves. Instead of trying to figure out whether something that someone else did was a sin and whether they were wrong to do it, maybe we should instead ask ourselves if it’s something we would be ashamed of before God and leave it at that, let God figure out who is right and who is wrong.
And let’s not forget, Jesus told us that lust in the heart is tantamount to adultery, that hatred in the heart is tantamount to murder. Pretty compelling stuff. Oh yeah, and He said to leave judging people up to his dad, to our dad. If we don’t, He said, God’s gonna be upset and judge us for judging. Well, dadgum! Judged for judging? I’m in trouble. We’re all in trouble. What can we possibly do to make it better? I don’t know about you guys, but I’m sure thankful that I can ask forgiveness for that and other sins. I’m sure glad that there is mercy because I am one Christian that doesn’t deserve it, and that makes me just like everyone else.
So on this Easter, let’s remember that Christ didn’t triumph over death to save a single saint. There are no ‘saints’ except through Him. No, Jesus came to save sinners, and that’s all of us. So the next time you are privy to the 411 on someone else’s personal life, don’t ask yourself what Jesus would have done in their shoes. Ask what Jesus wouldn’t do in yours. He wouldn’t judge them for being different. He wouldn’t smile on the outside and hate on the inside. He wouldn’t spread gossip or bring the person down. He would love them. And if being a Christian is striving to be more Christ-like, maybe we should stop worrying so much about whether everyone else fits the standard that we have for them and start thanking God that we don’t get squished for not fitting the standard that He has for us. I have heard more than once from people that the most Christ-like individuals they know are not Christians. That should tell us something about ourselves. I even saw a preacher quoted as saying that God prefers a kind atheist to a hateful Christian. I don’t pretend to know if God prefers one over the other or not, but I do know that we are called to love and accept others, to treat them as we would be treated. That’s more than enough for me to think about without having to worry about other people’s paths. So what I’m saying is pretty simple. On this Easter, and for the rest of your life, strive to do not only what Jesus would do, but also to avoid doing what He wouldn’t do. I will try to do a better job myself.