I like the idea of “What would Jesus do?” I like that concept. But I don’t believe that’s necessarily what the Bible is getting at when it links our beliefs and our behavior. As our theology shapes our practices, I think it’s much more about discovering the character of Christ and acting in concert with that character.
Following the death and resurrection of Jesus, it doesn’t seem like the apostles wondered what Jesus would do if were in their shoes. It wasn’t “What would Jesus do if he were me?” It’s not “What would Jesus do if were here right now?” It looks like the thought of the early Christians and the teachings and example of the apostles was, “Because of what Jesus has done, how should I act?”
“What did Jesus do?”
What decision will I make today that embodies the very character of the God who gave up everything for the sake of the world? What decision right now reflects the integrity of the Christ as he lived and died for the salvation of others? How does my decision today fit in with the eternal purposes of God in Christ?
Forgive one another as God in Christ forgave you. Accept one another as Christ has accepted you. Love one another as God loves you.
It appears to me that the apostle Paul took the truth of the Gospel into account with every single decision he made in life. Every single plan, every move, was made after first considering carefully the Gospel implications. Even something as normal and routine as changing his travel plans was done “in the holiness and sincerity that are from God.” Paul rearranged his schedule “not according to worldly wisdom but according to God’s grace.”
I have conversations from time to time — 20 and 30 minute conversations — about something we’re doing or not doing at our church. Something somebody really likes or something somebody really doesn’t like much at all. Some activity or practice or decision that has this person talking. And I listen to these long, heated, passionate pleas, and not one time does the person mention God. Or Jesus. Not one time does the truth of the Gospel get inserted into the discussion.
The faithfulness of God and the character of Christ must be the determining factor in everything we do as a church of his people and in our own individual ministries and lives.
It’s not so much “What would Jesus do?” It’s more like “Because of what Jesus did, and because of what God is doing through Christ today, what kind of a person am I and what kinds of choices and decisions do I make?