Part Two: The Active Ingredient
Do you remember the WWJD bracelets with the question we were supposed to constantly ask ourselves – “What would Jesus do?”
Why do we not hear the WWJD anymore? Why do we only hear parodies on WWJD?
Among other reasons, the WWJD phenomenon was based on a concept that we can be like Jesus if we just imitate His daily routines and decisions. This claim is a natural reaction to a warped view of Christianity that assumes that one can pray a sinner’s pray, accept Christ, then live any way he/she wishes and still go to heaven. So to separate the “real Christian” from those who just prayed a prayer, we erect systems of obedience asserting that we can become like Christ by simply doing what He did. One writer says, “If we have faith in Christ, we must believe that he knew how to live. We can become like Christ by practicing the types of activities he engaged in, by arranging our whole lives around the activities he himself practiced.” The writer continues by listing the practices (solitude and silence, prayer, simple and sacrificial living, intense study and meditation upon God’s Word and service to others).
Please don’t misunderstand; these are all good (and even necessary) behaviors. But this is really a subtle replay of the old rabbinical form of “do in order to be.” It sounds right and preaches good. We can stir guilt easily and get rousing “amens” by preaching about what we should be doing better and how we are not laying our lives down like we should. But there is fundamental flaw in the “do-what-I-do-and-you’ll-be-what-I-be” proposition.
Jesus did not do what He did simply because He had learned the perfect Christian ethic and knew which rule the Father was most concerned about. Jesus was filled with the Spirit, overflowing with the Spirit and did everything He did by the power of the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:14,15, 18; Acts 10:38). He made the decisions He made and said what He said because He was listening to the Father through the Holy Spirit. He only did what He saw His Father do and only said what He heard Father say (Jn 8:28).
Perhaps it is not about an imitated behavior but an indwelling life that comes through a personal relationship with the Father by the Holy Spirit. Perhaps Holy Spirit is the active ingredient, not only for Jesus, but for His disciples!
Rather than “What Would Jesus Do?” perhaps we should be asking “What Is The Spirit Saying?” God is not looking for mimics that learn to behave in certain ways. Consistently righteous decisions cannot be made without the infusion of a righteous life in the interior of one’s being, manifested by the outworking of daily disciplines. When filled with the Spirit daily the actions consistently arise out of spiritually transformed “presets” that would make acting any other way to seem “unnatural.” Thus rather than attempting to act in an unnatural way (i.e. do the right thing), we are to be filled with the Spirit as our spiritual “magnetic North” in such a way that our life flows out of rightness. Who we “be” must precede we do. This is the “active ingredient” to living the Jesus life.
As I see it, one can focus on abstinence from “wrong behaviors” and at times feel powerful and in control – but it is deceptive. It is not by human might or strength, but by the Spirit of the Lord. To focus on fullness rather than abstinence is to constantly invite the Father to fill you again and again, to receive everything He has for you today. The joy of the Christian life is that anything the Father demands of you, He first gives to you… and He makes it available every day. Rather than ask, What Would Jesus Do, let’s start asking, “Holy Spirit, what are you saying?”
Dr. Kerry Wood | All Rights Reserved 2015