When we see the letters WWJD most people know that those letters stand for: What Would Jesus Do? Many of us ask ourselves that question when we are faced with a difficult situation or person. What Would Jesus Do? Hopefully as a result, we are kinder and more understanding as we try to do what is noble.
Professor and author Gary Wills challenges the use of the question: What Would Jesus Do? Wills says first of all, that this is a question Jesus’ disciples would never ask. They never knew what Jesus was going to do next. Jesus could turn on Peter and call him “Satan”. He could refuse to receive his own mother when she asked to see him. He might send hundreds of pigs over a cliff to their death. And Jesus might whip people out of the temple precincts.
Scenes like these let us know that the Gospels are scary and demanding. So it is not surprising that people want to tame the Gospels, dilute them and make them generic encouragements to be loving and peaceful and kind.
If you know anything about Jesus, you know that he was a radical. He was countercultural. It was the prevailing culture that killed Jesus. He is not a Dr. Phil dispensing advice and warm fuzzies along with we want to hear.
Jesus said to seek first the Kingdom of God which he described as feeding the hungry and giving drink to the thirsty. He told disturbing stories about the rich man and Lazarus at the gate and the rich man who built bigger barns only to die that night and lose his soul.
Jesus spoke about forgiving others as a condition of being forgiven ourselves. He spoke of treating women with respect and not lusting after them. Jesus spoke continually of compassion and he gave everyone a second chance.
And the clincher for which he was killed – He actually DID those things. Jesus fed the hungry by the thousands. He healed the sick. He took time with friends. He hugged children.
In our own culture we do one better than those who nailed Jesus to the Cross. We do an Extreme Makeover of Jesus into OUR OWN IMAGE of him.