What did Jesus do?

wwjdThe Christian™ marketplace is flooded with a huge range of memorabilia, gadgets, gizmos, plaques with cute sayings, and symbolic creations meant to entice the Christian’s hard-earned cash away from them and into the pockets of Christian™ entrepreneurs.

And nothing has been such a smashing success as the WWJD brand.

Based on the poignant question ‘What would Jesus do?’ asked in the classic Christian™ novel (before the Christian™ novel became a sanitised Harlequin Romance), In His Steps, this question has been a consistent top-seller in Christian™ book stores, church shops, Christian™ cafes and Christian™ online sellers and market stalls.

Yet, I don’t think the average person who calls themselves by the name of the Christ ever actually stops to think about what Jesus actually did.

Here’s just one of the many things he did–toted as Jesus’s ‘first miracle’–in a little town called Cana and a wedding the details of which have been lost to anonymity.

So what did Jesus do?

John Shore, in his excellent little book I’m OK and You’re Not tells it this way:

What Jesus did that afternoon at that wedding was, to my mind, as powerful a testament to how much he loves people as was his very sacrifice on the cross*. I believe that his choosing to make his first miracle turning all that good water into all that good wine says everything any of us will ever need to know about what Jesus wants our attitude to be toward not just fellow believers, but toward virtually everyone.

It’s a pretty safe bet that Jesus fully understands the power of first impressions, don’t you think? He knew blessing that wedding with more wine than any of its guests could drink would be recorded as his opening miracle. He knew that for as long as people told his story, they’d remember that that was how he first chose to conclusively prove his divinity.

Pretty clearly, he was meaning to tell us something with that choice. And I believe that something was love people just us you find them.

He didn’t lecture the people at that wedding. He didn’t frighten them. He didn’t try to convince them of the error of their ways. He didn’t start dividing them into groups of good and bad. He didn’t in any way interfere with what they were doing. He quietly and without fanfare enhanced what they were doing and that was all.

And what were they doing? Dancing, singing, hugging, whooping it up, crying, and in every way acting like people usually do at wedding receptions: Like they’re celebrating all the tilings about being human that deserve to be celebrated. In a real way that we all understand, there’s nothing more gloriously human than a wedding reception.

And that’s where Jesus decided to launch his ministry.

And that’s how: By doing nothing more dramatic than making sure the lovely couple and all their lovely guests didn’t run out of wine.

And not that cheap, comes-in-a-gallon-jug wine, either. He gave them good wine. He gave them great wine.

Because he wanted them to just keep doing what they were doing





I don’t see how Jesus could have made any clearer what he intended to be his first Big Message to anyone who would ever follow him: Accept and love people exactly as they are when you first meet them.

Go and do likewise.

Why I don’t wear a WWJD Bracelet

“Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,  in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” (Philippians 2:9-10 )

I have never been a fan of those WWJD bracelets, where the initials stand for the question, “What would Jesus do?” They seem to imply that we should answer that question at every turn and that it should then influence our actions. What would Jesus do? OK, then I will do exactly the same.

But here’s a news flash. You’re not Jesus. You come into contact with someone sick? What would Jesus do? He’d perform a miracle. Are you going to do that? You run out of wine at a wedding? What would Jesus do? He’d turn water into wine. Go ahead. And then try appearing in the sky with Moses and Elijah in the transfiguration, try casting out demons, try saving humanity through the resurrection. Does wearing that bracelet give you special powers? Good luck with that.

It seems to me that the WWJD bracelets are another symptom of individualistic Christianity, where it’s all about me. Yes, I know that many good people wear the bracelet to remind them to be kind and compassionate, to make good choices, often around issues of personal morality. But really, when you look at what Jesus actually did do, most of it is off limits to ordinary mortals.

And when he did engage in questions of personal morality, he said nothing about sexuality, just saying no to drugs, donating to National Public Radio or other pressing causes of our day. When it comes to personal morality, Jesus seems awkwardly stuck on telling us to give our money away, and not to the sellers of “What Would Jesus Do” bracelets. But other than that, most of what he does is sort of supernatural and crazy, and off limits to you and me, culminating in his suffering on the cross yet triumphing over death. In a world that says it’s all about you, WWJD is a pretty humbling thought.

I give thanks that there is a God and that it is not me. Amen.

Reflection by Lillian Daniel, from StillSpeaking

(StillSpeaking is a daily reflection sent by email from the United Church of Christ in the U.S. You can subscribe by going to the UCC website and clicking on the Feed Your Spirit > Daily Devotional link or by clicking here.)

Music That Helps Me Believe . . .

I stumbled across a link to Adam Ellis’ blog, Adventures in Following Jesus, today (on Jesus Needs New PR–great title!) and found this little gem: Music that helps me believe, and music that doesn’t. Music is such an integral part of our lives and can be a great influencer of our theology and well-being. I found his post a good starter for me to think about what I’m putting into my ears.

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Speaking of Jesus Needs New PR, here’s an interesting collection of pictures I found, some of which are just pure corn, especially this church sign that links free thinkers with Satan.

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Looking at funny Christian cartoons and pictures amuses me, probably because it makes me feel better–like ‘I’m not like them,’ or ‘I can’t believe they would do that.’ When it hits closer to home is when it becomes challenging. Do I appreciate it as much when it strikes a chord in my own life experience and (ahem!) convicts me?

I’ve found the Naked Pastor’s cartoons fall into this category a lot of the time, and then again some are just purely hilarious!

This one isn’t funny even though it, at first glance, appears to poke fun at the WWJD crowd. Unfortunately, a lot of damage has been done to those toting all sorts of WWJD merchandise, claiming to desire Jesus-like thinking. Its message is a challenge to the 21st Century church to truly be like Jesus and love unconditionally.