Years ago there was a craze of wearing these rubbery wristbands with the insignia stamped W.W.J.D. which was an acronym for What Would Jesus Do? Its goal was to keep us thoughtful of Jesus’ actions, and way of being, in the world. The premise was beautiful and good and holy. The execution of the idea was interpreted in light of our inherent biases and beliefs. I remember asking someone about that and what they understood about Jesus. They admitted that they had never read a single Gospel! It left me with a question—How in the world would you know what Jesus would do?!
Author Anne Lamott has a great saying. “You can safely assume you’ve created God in your own image when it turns out that God hates all the same people you do.” Funny, right?! Yet this is a sad but true statement! Father Richard Rohr said it bluntly this way,
“Christians are usually sincere and well-intentioned people until you get to any real issues of ego, control, power, money, pleasure, and security. Then they tend to be pretty much like everybody else. We often given a bogus version of the Gospel, some fast-food religion, without any deep transformation of the self; and the result has been the spiritual disaster of “Christian” countries that tend to be as consumer-oriented, proud, warlike, racist, class conscious, and addictive as everybody else-and often more so, I’m afraid.”
Jesus, I would dare say, cared more about the heart, the motivation, of the individual. Throughout the Gospels, he engages with a wide range of humanity: from those who thought they were elite, like the rich young ruler and the Pharisees, to the deeply marginalized and outcast, like the lepers and prostitutes. What he does in his ministry is invite them in and asks them a lot of questions. He doesn’t tell them who to be, he simply invites them to be thoughtful about their motivations. For the rich young ruler, could he sell all he had and give it away? To the Pharisees who wanted control, could they hear the heart of the laws that they had made so burdensome? To the leper, did he really want to be healed? To us, do we really want to live into W.W.J.D?