jump to navigation

It’s not WWJD, but WIJ February 11, 2007

Posted by Tim in Disciple.
add a comment

You remember the WWJD bracelets, right? Wearing them was supposed to help us stop and think in every situation: What Would Jesus Do? Then, of course, we would make the godly choice and everything would work out just fine. You don’t see many of those bracelets anymore, and it’s not just because they were a fad that went out of fashion. I believe that the church, whether through WWJD bracelets or How-To sermons, is asking the wrong questions. We continue to ask How and What and Where and When and even Why because we have not truly answered the most important question of all: Who.

Who is God? Who, exactly, is Jesus? Who is the Holy Spirit? And when it comes right down to it, who am I?

We evangelicals put great—and appropriate—emphasis on referring to Jesus as our personal Lord and Savior. Yet much of our spiritual thought and practice passes right by personality to focus on performance. And this, I believe, is one of the great sources of tension and frustration among believers. Because we are steeped in a culture of competence, competition, and achievement, it is incredibly difficult to keep those influences from coloring our thoughts about Christ and our new life in Him.

When I think of myself, do I think about my position in Christ or about how well I’m doing at being a Christian? If the latter, then I’m in for a big letdown. After all, I know what the Biblical standards are, I know (or at least I think I do) what is expected of me as one who has been born again. Yet when I look at myself, I don’t see much of a change from who I was before I believed. I still lie and lust. I still rob and rage. I’m still a selfish, whiny, ungrateful little brat. Why doesn’t this Christianity stuff work the way it’s supposed to?

When I think of Christ, do I consider His eternal sovereignty, or do I look at what he seems to be doing about my present circumstances? If the latter, then I will wonder why he doesn’t heal my diseases, keep my spouse from leaving me, turn my child’s heart back to me, give me a better job, or defend me against my backstabbing co-worker. He’s not coming through for me like he said he would. Is he really God, or is the debunking article about him in that magazine right after all? Maybe it’s just me—maybe I’ve blown it somehow, and he’s written me off. Maybe he’s just not as dependable as that pastor led me to believe he was.

In either case, things aren’t working the way we expected. And when something is broken, we naturally ask the How and What questions: How do I Fix This? and What Do I Do to Prevent Further Malfunctions? The trouble is that nothing ever stays fixed in a broken world. Despite our best efforts and intentions, our son turns to cocaine. No matter how hard we try, the look of disappointment will not leave our lover’s eyes. Even when things are going well, worry and doubt and fear nag at us in the dark hours of the night. The pain may subside now and then, but it never really goes away. And we ask Why.

The answers to all of our Hows and Whats and Whys are subsumed in the answer to Who. We must relentlessly choose and choose again to pursue relationship with God, to desire first to know Who He is rather than What He does. Because What He does is the natural expression of Who He is. When I immerse myself in Who God is, I desire Him, not just what he can do for me. When I know—really know—Who God is, I also begin to understand who I am. I see Him as The Almighty, God Most High, the Eternal Creator and Redeemer of life. I see that God truly is my Father, rather than just mouthing that fatherhood as an empty platitude. And if God is my Father, then I am His child; not an arrogant, spoiled princeling, but an heir of righteousness who is eternally secure. My life is “hidden with Christ in God” (Colossians 3:3). In that security, jobs, rent payments, and turbulent relationships fall into perspective. Here’s more of that passage from Colossians:

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”

Incidentally, Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians to refute several heretical teachings that were drawing the believers in that city into confusion and error. To counter those falsehoods, Paul didn’t talk about how they could do better. Instead, he proclaimed the supremacy of Christ: “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:17). In other words, Paul asked and answered the Who.

What do you think?