The Weekly Epistle 5/6/20

What would Jesus do?  Back in the 90’s I was sitting in a seminary class when I looked over to the guy in front of me and noticed that he had this bracelet on that had in big letters, WWJD.  Being as easily distracted as I am, that was all I could focus on.  I didn’t hear a word the professor was saying because I was trying to figure out the significance of these letters- WWJD.
Of course, following that I saw those letters everywhere on bracelets.  By the way, did you know that the WWJD abbreviation became popular back in the late 1800’s after the widely read book entitled, “In His Steps: What would Jesus do?”  There is nothing new under the sun. 
Confession here- I have never been a big fan of the “What Would Jesus Do” phenomenon and the question itself.
Two little boys were arguing over who would have the last piece of cake.  The mom jumps in and says to the older son, “Billy, what would Jesus do?”  And Billy answered, “He’d multiply it into 5,000 pieces.”  Exactly!
You run out of everyone’s favorite drink at the wedding- what would Jesus? He’d turn the water into that drink.  You come into contact with someone sick- what would Jesus do? He’d perform a miracle and heal her.  Instead of trying to cross Winni on a boat, I will just start walking across. 
And what would Jesus do if he were living in this time of the Pandemic?  What would Jesus do with all the restrictions?  Would he wear a mask in public?  Would he practice social distancing?  
I doubt you can answer those questions with absolute certainty.  What would Jesus do? Is that a helpful question?  
I know asking that question can serve some purpose.  Perhaps it helps you to be more compassionate or respond in kindness rather than retaliation or do the dishes instead of leaving it for someone else.  
Here is my issue.  And it would imply that I also have a problem with the book “In His Steps.”  My concern is that we can actually assume to know what Jesus would do in every situation and then simply mimic that. My concern has to do with trying to live the Christian life by following some externals.  My concern is that we boil the Christian life down to formulas, checklists, and trying to get it all right externally.  
Living the Christian life is impossible.  I cannot live out what God wants of me in my own power.  I cannot do it.  One of the most critical verses for me early on in my walk with Christ was Galatians 2:20. It says, “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
There was a time in my life in which I was saying that verse as part of my morning time with the Lord almost daily.  Why?  Because I have a tendency to try and live out my faith on my own.  And the longer I am a Christian, the greater this danger is.  And most of the time now I at least have an awareness of when I am doing this…most of the time.  
It usually shows in that I am restless, anxious, stressed, tired, irritable, joyless, and other signs.  I must keep coming back to, “I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.”  And the result of Christ living in me and flowing out of my life is the nine-flavored fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
No amount of my trying harder or trying to get it all just right as if there is an easy, neat, answer to every situation, is no way to live.  Where is the freedom in that?  I want off the treadmill of performance and experience instead the power of Christ living in me.  “I want to know Him,” Paul says, “and the power of his resurrection.”  
I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.  I N L L B C L I M.    Is that too long to put on a bracelet?  
Blessings to you church!  Pastor Brian

Looking Forward

Sermon Direction

When God Seems Silent

Book of Esther

Last Sunday’s Sermon

Wednesdays In The Word
Some Guarantees
Romans 8

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