Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the actuality of becoming like Jesus because it's not as easy as I once thought.
A number of years ago, there was this discipleship campaign called, "What Would Jesus Do?" with the braclets and the whole bit. I remember getting one of the wrist bands, thinking it was the best thing that ever happened to my wrist. I was enamored with the idea of doing what Jesus did, what he actually said. I was ready for change.
The braclet didn't make me more like Jesus, though. The implication behind the question on the braclet was this--If someone wearing the braclet looked at their wrist randomly, they would be reminded to be like Jesus, ask themselves, "What would Jesus do?", know the answer, and be able to carry it out. The problem with me and the braclet had little to do with the marketing scheme or even the nature of the campaign. The problem was simply this:
I can't do what Jesus would do. It's too far beyond me.
Even if I happened to look at the braclet randomly and ask myself the question, I cannot even answer the question, "What Would Jesus Do?" without a lot of speculation. He lived in a specific context totally removed from my 21st-century, American self. For example, "What would Jesus do for a job today?" The economy is down, he might not be able to get a carpentry job. Would he take that decently paying sales job if that's all he could get after college graduation? Would Jesus even go to college? Would Jesus would live in a big city so he could be influential? Didn't he live in the country? None of those things are bad, I just don't know if that's what Jesus would do.
The problem with "What Would Jesus Do?" is not simply that it's hard to answer; it's also that I am incapable of living up to what he can do. He's too far beyond me, he's life-style out of my reach, higher than mine. So my condolences to the nice braclet people and all the good-hearted supporters, but I have a confession to make:
I don't know what Jesus would do; even if I did, I can't do it.
He already knows that though: "Apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15). I'm glad he can, and I'd like to let him do that in my life.
Thanks for the lesson, Bob VanFleteren, Alan Hirsch, and Andy Stanley.