If you’ve been alive and even remotely conscious for, say, the last decade or two, you will immediately know what I mean when I say WWJD. If you’re under 15 or have been in an extended coma from which you recently awoke – if that’s the case, congrats, and those little things you see everyone carrying around and staring at all the time? Those are called “smart phones” and what makes them so smart, apparently, is that they let you, quote, communicate, unquote, with others without ever having to actually talk to anyone – now where was I? Oh, yeah.
… from which you recently awoke, WWJD is an acronym for What Would Jesus Do, a catchy little phrase that served as a kind of moral compass for millions of Christian youth in the 1990’s. The idea was that in any given situation, you could determine the right thing to do by simply asking yourself, WWJD?
As do all things, this particular craze eventually faded. Every generation wants its own fad, right? I expect this one will come around again, undoubtedly with a different name or acronym, but it may take another hundred years (the original WWJD craze, after all, was Charles Sheldon’s book In His Steps, published in 1896).
I have been thinking about WWJD a lot lately, though. Because once you get past all the merchandising (remember those ultra-cool woven bracelets?) and all the self-righteous hype (who didn’t use a well-placed, “WWJD, sista?” to admonish someone who wasn’t quite living up to our … er, Jesus’ … standards?), WWJD really is an impressive and simple way to keep on track.
Well, it’s a simple way to determine the right track from the wrong track, anyway.
Keeping on the right track is a whole other matter. Because when I ask myself, “WWJD, sista?” and the answer comes back so very clearly, “Not what you’re thinking about doing, sista, that’s for sure,” then I’m in that really uncomfortable place I hate being – the place where I have to choose what I know to be the right thing to do or choose to do the other thing. See? It’s even hard to write “choose the wrong thing.” Once you define it as “wrong” and you go ahead and choose it, it’s an overt sin, and who wants to live with that?
This was my train of thought today as I drove back from the grocery store, and all of a sudden it occurred to me that I always choose to do what J would do. But which J?
Jesus, or Judas?
We all shudder at the name Judas, don’t we? We despise him. He betrayed Jesus. Sold him out for a little bit of silver (well, a lot in those days, but of course we wouldn’t have sold the Lord out for any amount, right?). He obviously hated Jesus. He was practically Satan in disguise. A wolf in sheep’s clothing. A fox in the henhouse. A … you get the picture.
But you know, really, he probably wasn’t that bad a guy. He probably even loved Jesus, to some extent. He was a disciple. He learned at Jesus’ knee. He was trusted by all the disciples. There’s a school of thought that he believed so strongly in Jesus’ power that he figured no one could hurt him, that Jesus would save himself, so why not make a little profit? There’s another that he thought Jesus was going to overthrow Roman rule of Israel and was disillusioned when He didn’t. Judas probably came up with a dozen justifications for what he did.
Hmmm. That sounds strangely familiar.
What Judas forgot – what I forget so often – is that the answer to WWJD always, always, always starts and ends with love. Jesus would love in every situation. And His love would be patient and kind. It would not be envious, boastful or proud. It would not dishonor others, or be self-seeking. His love would not be easily angered and it would keep no record of wrongdoing (this is one of the hardest ones for me). His love would not delight in evil but rejoice in the truth. It would always protect, always trust, always hope, and always persevere.
He would love His brothers, love His neighbor, love His enemies.
It didn’t matter that maybe Jesus had all the power of God and could save himself. It didn’t matter that maybe Jesus hadn’t behaved as Judas expected. Judas betrayed him, and that was not love.
I don’t love when I refuse to forgive someone. I don’t love when I am less than honest with someone. I don’t love when I am jealous. I don’t love when I stay angry (it’s pretty near impossible not to get angry sometimes, but it’s always a choice whether to stay angry). I don’t love when I gossip. I don’t love when I judge others (here is a great reminder: don’t judge others just because they sin differently than you do). The list goes on and on.
So here’s the thing. I always have two choices: Do I do what Jesus would do? Or do I do what Judas would do?
Which J do I obey?