“…and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.” John 13: 33
Charles Sheldon was a preacher in Topeka, Kansas. In the late 1880’s, he developed a unique style of preaching. Wanting to encourage regular worship attendance, he would tell entertaining stories and end them with a cliffhanger. People would have to come back the following week to find out what happened next.
In Sheldon’s sermons, different people would be confronted by a moral dilemma. Then He would pose a question to the congregation, “What would Jesus do?” He did this so often, it became his trademark. Eventually, Sheldon was encouraged to publish his sermons in a book he titled, “In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do?” It became one of the top 50 best selling books of all time.
In the 1990’s, a youth group leader at Calvary Reformed Church in Holland, Michigan discovered Charles Sheldon’s book. She decided it was a great way for youth to engage faith into their everyday life. To help remind them of this question, “What would Jesus do?”, she created bracelets with the initials W.W.J.D. on them. Much like Sheldon’s book, the bracelets took off and became a national sensation.
There is an inherent problem with posing the question, “What would Jesus do?” A point made in today’s reading and something to remember during Holy Week. Jesus tells his intimate group of disciples, “Where I am going, you cannot come.” To be more specific, you cannot do what Jesus did because you cannot die for the sins of the world. The cross is not a tragedy. It’s about life defeating death. Love conquering hate.
We cannot do what Jesus did. However, we can do what Jesus commanded us to do. That is, love one another just as Jesus has loved us. Charles Sheldon provided an amazing witness to this command. In the midst of a racially segregated community, he openly invited black families to become full members of his white congregation. He spoke out against the KKK and any who proclaimed anti-Semite views. He worked for gender equality and living wages for the poor. To him, these were more than social justice issues. They were expressions of living out love for your neighbor. Easter is about embracing we can and cannot do and living fully into both.
Click to read: John 13: 31-38
- How have you reacted to the W.W.J.D. movement?
- Where do you find the most meaning in Holy Week?
- What does loving your neighbor look like?
- How is loving your enemy different for loving a friend?
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