So, What Would Jesus Do?

wwjd braceletsScripture talks about being led by the Spirit (see Luke 4:1; Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18). But exactly what does it look like? Well, to truly be led by the Spirit of God, then the initial step is that the Holy Spirit must be dwelling in us. That seems obvious, right?

There’s more, though. Interacting regularly with the Word of God will allow His Spirit more access into our hearts and minds. If you ignore the Bible – the life-giving and life-changing Word of God – you have cut off the main avenue that the Lord uses to lead and guide by His Spirit. The converse is also true. The more you engage with the Word – reading, studying, memorizing – the clearer will be the voice of the Spirit in any given situation.

In his book, The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives, Dallas Willard comments about Charles Sheldon’s classic novel, In His Steps. In doing so, he also comments about the WWJD – What Would Jesus Do? – movement.

The book is entirely focused upon trying to do what Jesus supposedly would do in response to specific choices…. There is no suggestion that his power to choose rightly was rooted in the kind of overall life he had adopted in order to maintain his inner balance and his connection with his Father. The book does not state that to follow in his steps is to adopt the total manner of life he did. So the idea conveyed is an absolutely fatal one—that to follow him simply means to try to behave as he did “on the spot.” … There is no realization that what he did in such cases was, in large and essential measure, the natural outflow of the life he lived when not “on the spot.” [Dallas Willard, The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988), 9]

Willard is right. The idea of simply making on-the-spot decisions removed from the rest of life is absurd. We could, of course, make a decision on what we think might be Jesus’ reaction. But unless His Word is dwelling in us, on what basis do we make such decisions? We’re not, at that point, being led by the Spirit. It’s just a spur of the moment idea with no true basis.

Why not, instead, allow His Word to shape and form all our actions in every area of life. If we really do that, we won’t even need to ask the question.

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2 Responses to So, What Would Jesus Do?

  1. Beck says:

    I wholeheartedly agree! I always struggled with that question and it’s premise as well. Mostly because, we’re not Jesus and I think it’s like mixing apples and oranges. Jesus’ purpose and ours are very different. What would Jesus do, to me, is an irrelevant question. Better to know for sure what God expects of us. Sometimes I think we’re just looking for the short cut instead of doing the hard work of growth. Anyhow, great post!

  2. Mark says:

    Tom, it is hard for me to agree with your assessment of Willard’s comments about Sheldon’s premise.
    Willard’s premise that we would somehow have to “guess” what Jesus would do in a given “on the spot” situation is flawed. We have the whole of Scripture to know the mind and heart of God in relation to our thoughts and actions in all things….we simply are not left to “figure out” what Jesus might do in a given situation.
    And, is not life an entire series of “on the spot” decisions? I think we could do a lot worse than ask the question “WWJD?”
    Sheldon’s book simply forces the reader to come to terms with our very human (read fallen) tendency to nuance EVERYTHING we do and say and, to a larger extent, forces the reader to reconcile the “walk” to the “talk”.
    Is that really so fatal?

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