Remember the WWJD fad a few years ago? The quote “What Would Jesus Do?” was found on everything from bracelets to tee-shirts to bumper stickers. It was (and remains) a dead-on approach to practicing Christianity.

Were you aware that this approach was far from being new? It was first championed by Charles Sheldon in 1896. In his much beloved book, In His Steps, he demonstrates what might happen if an entire congregation took WWJD to heart.

Set against the back drop of the “Gilded Age” of emerging American capitalism (where the gap between the rich and poor was even more pronounced than today) this book tells the story of a large, affluent big-city church being challenged and changed by the WWJD proposition. Even though it was written over a century ago it remains ultimately contemporary and completely revolutionary. Here is just an example:

What would Jesus do in the matter of wealth? How would he spend it? What principles would regulate His use of money? Would He be likely to live in great luxury and spend ten times as much on personal adornment and entertainment as He spent to relieve the needs of suffering humanity?…What would Jesus do about the great army of unemployed and desperate who tramp the streets and curse the church?…Would Jesus care nothing for them? Would He go His way in comparative ease and comfort? Would He say it was none of His business? Would He excuse Himself from all responsibility to remove the causes of such a condition?

These questions sound amazingly twenty-first century to me. Or maybe I should say they sound refreshingly first-century.

What would Jesus do? I will let him speak for himself.

The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor. Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me. Matthew 11:5-6

Earlier I mentioned that the fictionalized church of Mr. Sheldon was changed. Some fell away. They could not handle WWJD.

WWJD led Jesus to the cross. It is a given that it will lead us to one too. Will we be willing to pick it up?

Danny Dodd


5 Responses to WHAT WOULD JESUS DO?

  1. Ben Overby says:


    Will we be willing to pick it up? I hope the answer to that question is yes. However, willing to pick it up and actually being able to pick it up are two very different things. As the Proverb teaches, He who rules his own spirit is better than he who takes a city. Our churches remind me of an untrained athlete; we’ve not been trained to rule our own spirit (will). Suppose one of the great international soccer players refused to train, practice foot work, sprint for conditioning, and all the rest. No matter how much he’d will to be effective when it mattered, he’d fail. And I’m afraid that we have plenty of will, but almost zero discipline. The resulting dissonance drives us to either hypocrisy or the ecstasy of the “miserable sinner” syndrome; neither of which is terribly helpful in picking up a cross.

    I try to assume that we’d like to do what Jesus did. If that assumption is grounded in reality then as soon as we answer your question “WWJD”, we have to ask another–how would He do it? What was the source of His power? What sorts of things was he doing routinely (training?) that prepared Him to do what needed to be done when it actually needed to be done? Can I duplicate those things today without turning them into a legalism? How would the answer to those questions effect our vision of “Sunday School,” etc., etc.?


  2. DJG says:

    We have to start focusing on how to do what Jesus did (which means of course that we have to know what he did)

    Dallas Willard says that when our churches focus on forming disciples or apprentices of Jesus everything else will take its proper place…I tend to agree with him.

  3. preacherman says:

    I appreciate your comments.
    I enoyed reading your blog, lookfoward to reading more.
    God bless you.

  4. Danny says:

    Thanks for the thoughts guys. HWJD huh? I like that.

  5. makaku777 says:

    there are some things that Jesus did that we can do and some that we can’t. remember his teaching? follow the word of God. that’s what we should do. he was our example.

    p.s: you have to be born again to be able to do what he did. ;D

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