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 (NIV)
I have never been a fan of those WWJD bracelets, where the initials stand for the question, “What would Jesus do?” Although the WWJD message was coined in the late 1800s (by a Congregationalist minister!) within the Social Gospel movement, in its resurgence over the past generation “WWJD” bracelets seem to be another symptom of individualistic Christianity, where it’s all about me. “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.
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, much of it is off-limits to ordinary mortals.
And when he did engage in questions of personal morality, Jesus 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 seemed 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, much of what he did was sort of supernatural and unimaginable, 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.
Lillian Daniel is Senior Pastor at First Congregational church, Dubuque, Iowa, and is the author of Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don’t Belong To.