In the late 19th Century, Charles Sheldon published the novel In His Steps. The subtitle of the book was What Would Jesus Do? – or, as it’s commonly abbreviated, WWJD. The book has sold millions of copies and is still widely available. You easily find a copy in a library, a bookstore, or even online since its copyright protection is limited.
Sheldon based his book on 1 Peter 2:21, in which the apostle Peter exhorts his readers to imitate Jesus. WWJD – whether abbreviated or fully expressed – is even more widely known than the book. It has become a rallying cry for many who express faith in Jesus.
Is Peter’s advice to imitate Jesus worth following? Of course it is. Why then has WWJD as a rallying cry not been more effective in improving humanity’s behavior? There are several obvious reasons.
The first point of failure is that people try to implement the advice on a collective basis. That is, they try to get a group of people to adopt WWJD as a lifestyle. This is cumbersome at best. At worst, it is groupthink which deprives individuals of the both the responsibility and the blessing of making the daily decisions. It leads to the fear of man instead of the fear of God.
The second misconception is assuming that Jesus would always do the same thing. The reality is that each person’s circumstances are different and therefore Jesus might do something different as person A from what He would do if He were person B – even if persons A and B know each other and interact frequently.
This leads to the third misapplication of the concept which is expecting everyone else to approve of your decisions. This will lead to disappointment because people who successfully imitate Jesus are often persecuted instead of praised. Persecution happened to Jesus and it is what He warned would happen to us when we imitated Him. Remember, however, that Jesus endured and overcame persecution. Therefore, He can see that you do, too.
Therefore, if you want to change the world with WWJD, start with your own life. And don’t do it for anyone else’s approval but His. If you stay this course, the world really will be improving…one person at a time. This is really the only way it ever improves anyway.
Bible notes on this post.
The purpose of this blog is to praise Jesus Christ for those who want to hear about Him without having to join a church, organization, mailing list, or anything else other than Him.