Is “WWJD” Realistic?
Several years ago, the acronym WWJD became very popular. The acronym stands for “What Would Jesus Do?” Certain people made the acronym popular by marketing various types of items upon which they printed WWJD. The question that I began to ask is this, “Is WWJD realistic?” That is to say, “Is it realistic to expect people to honestly ask themselves what Jesus would do before following through with some type of act?” Bible class teachers have told their students to consider what Jesus would do before acting. However, from certain instances and examples that I have seen, it is becoming even more apparent that not every Christian considers what Jesus would do. Or, if they were asking the question, they either ignored the answer or attributed to Jesus something that He would have never done. So, I am left questioning whether or not the acronym is realistic?
In order for WWJD to be realistic, the Bible would have to teach that we can truly follow Jesus as our example. The life that He lived would have to serve as a pattern for us to follow. The steps that Jesus took would have to serve as a path to which we can hold. Hence the question, “Does the Bible establish such a principle? Does the Bible teach that Jesus serves as our example?” The answer to the question is an emphatic, “Yes!”
In 1 Peter 2:21-24, Peter wrote, “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: ‘Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth’; who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness— by whose stripes you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:21-24, NKJV) According to this text, Christ left us an example in as much as He did not sin, He was not deceitful, He did not return reviling for reviling, and He suffered without threatening. Jesus did all this, dying upon the cross, so that we, Christians, might live for righteousness. Christ serves as our example so that we can answer the question, “What would Jesus do?”
It seems, though, there are times when asking ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” would result in answers that we do not like. For instance, when a person does you wrong, there may be the temptation to get even with that person; to treat them the same way they treated you. However, is that what Jesus would have done? To answer that question, look at Jesus hanging on the cross asking the father to forgive the people for they did not know what they were doing. Jesus would not retaliate. However, when we are mad and angry, we feel that retaliation is justified. “I want them to pay. I want them to suffer. I want them to hurt. No mercy!” When the feelings of anger, hurt, and rage begin to build, we do not want to ask ourselves what Jesus would do. We will not like the answer.
At this point, we forget the compassion and mercy Jesus had for us when He died on the cross. We forget the compassion and mercy of God when He granted the forgiveness of our sins. We tell ourselves, “It’s different. I’m not God. He can’t expect me to show compassion and mercy.” Nevertheless, God does expect that very thing of you. Observe the following words of Peter, “Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘Be holy, for I am holy.’” (1 Peter 1:13-15, NKJV) According to this passage, God expects us to be holy as He is holy. To do otherwise is sin. To do otherwise is to openly reject His instructions and His words.
The true challenge to follow in the footsteps of Jesus does not come when all is right in your life. It is not a challenge to follow Jesus when your family is in harmony, when the local church is working together, and when your job and social life are on an even keel. The challenge to follow in the footsteps of Jesus comes when the trials of our lives knock us down and step on us. Dealing with an ungodly co-worker challenges us to walk like Jesus. Addressing the problems of our marriages challenges us to walk like Jesus, especially when our marriages are falling apart right in front of our very eyes. Dealing with ungodly classmates, an unfair employer, disobedient children, crooked business partners, etc. challenges us all to walk like Jesus. It is at these times of trials that we must ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” and then, look to the Bible for the answers. After you have found the answers, “grit your teeth,” “hold on tight,” and “bite the bullet” while you do what is right. In the end, you will be thankful you persisted and did the right thing.
Is WWJD realistic? Yes, if you are willing to listen to and apply the answers in your life. God does not expect more of you than what you can do. However, He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. (Cf. 1 Corinthians 10:13) Therefore, you can handle and deal with every trial, temptation, and problem that will come your way. Ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?” Then, let the Bible answer the question and allow yourself to follow the answer.