I was exchanging notes with my spiritual mentor. He said he’d been thinking about the question that became popular a few years ago: what would Jesus do?
As I understood it back when I first began noticing all the WWJD monograms that were showing up in bumper stickers and bracelets, it was a way of getting yourself to behave in a more Christ-like way when facing decisions or challenges. I don’t doubt it remains a handy review question for all of us, at every age and stage of life.
My spiritual mentor wrote that a second question had occurred to him. Beyond asking himself what Jesus would do, he realized it would probably also be wise if he asked Jesus for directions on how he would like it done, whatever it might be. My friend wrote, “I feel I’ve been foolish by asking what I thought was THE question and neglecting the other.”
Once I absorbed it, I liked the added humility and servant-spirit this second question embodied.
But I didn’t get it at first. I have my stroke-damaged eyes to blame, or thank. I have seen most of the world around me with double vision for more than two years now. Reading words off a page has become tricky. It helps that on a computer screen I can increase font sizes, but even there I don’t always see clearly what the string of letters says. That’s the bad news.
The good news is I have gained an extra excuse to explain any typos that get past me now.
But back to my friend’s note.
I misread his second question at first. Bad news. The good news is: the question I thought he was raising was also pretty good and it got me thinking even more deeply about my decision making habits. I thought the second question was more like what do you want ME to do, Jesus?
This question completely bypasses the mind-reading I must perform when asking myself WWJD. Why should I assume I could guess, much less know, regardless of how much I had studied the life of Christ, what he would do in whatever brand new situation I faced? Wouldn’t it be better for the servant to simply ask, from the very beginning, Jesus, what do you want me to do?
Of course, a bumper sticker with JWDYWMTD on it might be more confusing than it was worth. But asking that question from the start, without any guesswork or expectation that I should have a right to approve a plan before acting on it, would be more seemly. When I used to give my dinner order to restaurant waiters, they waited until I had made my wishes clear before they took off to the kitchen. They didn’t even offer any opinion on what I was ordering unless I asked. I seldom felt that I needed to.
I don’t suppose Jesus needs my opinion very often, either.
And while it might be entertaining, charming, and amusing to watch me guess at what Daddy wanted me to do, it would also waste time if something needed a quick response. Would the Lord be willing to ask me to carry out his wishes the next time, after seeing how I responded the last time, if all I was doing was guessing at what he wanted?