The quintessential 90’s Christian accessories, the WWJD bracelet, T-shirt, Bible cover, bumper sticker (and today, an app) were all derived from the 1896 book penned by Charles Sheldon entitled In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do? The titular question got a lot of people pondering what their choices might look like if they’d act as Jesus would. In some cases, the question brought clarity:
Q. Would Jesus steal this hubcap?
But as even a casual read-through of the Gospels will show, Jesus didn’t always do what people thought he would do. He fell asleep while sailing through storms, scribbled in the dirt instead of stoning sinners, and suffered on the cross as an innocent man instead of calling on an angel army to avenge him.
Recently, I had a conversation with some new friends about the state of affairs in our culture. One of them asked a question that takes WWJD to a deeper, truer level:
Q. What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?
I’ll grant WWIDIIA is not quite as bracelet-friendly as WWJD. At first glance, it seems weaker because there’s no “J” in it. Or “G” for “God”, for that matter. But for a person who is sincerely trying to walk in the steps of Jesus, this question gets at the heart of what might be keeping him or her from acting in faith. It challenges our self-preservation instincts and exposes our fears, both of which keep us from being fully free to walk in his steps.
I had an old friend look me straight in the eye about a year ago and tell me she sensed I was overthinking my life. Hurts and losses have brought me maturity, but they’ve simultaneously strengthened my impulse to fortress some of the most vulnerable parts of my soul. Trust doesn’t come easy. I’m afraid, even when there’s no reason to be. I have a big, bold, personality and don’t shy away from confrontation in many areas. But there are places in my life (pondering our future living situation, challenging family issues, church) in which I’ve gotten pretty good at rebranding my fears as wisdom.
A question like “What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?” hurdles those defenses and exposes them for what they are – things that keep me from following Jesus freely and wholeheartedly. It’s a question I’m trying to learn to ask whenever I run into my own internal resistance to a person, situation, or decision.
If this strikes a chord with you, why not give this question a spin for a few days? I’d love to know how it goes for you.