Sunday, March 13, 2011

What Would Paul Do?

I was thinking about WWJD bracelets today (don't ask me how I got there) and I suddenly realized that, in so many instances, that question is irrelevant, verging on incoherent. Almost like asking, "What would my iPad do?" Jesus, while human, was (and is) also God and that makes the position from which he did and said everything completely other.

You see, I've been reading the Gospels a lot in the past two years and, as I take a mental inventory of all that Jesus did in his three years of ministry, I can't do most of it. For instance, Jesus forgave sin. Yet he affirmed the protestation from the Pharisees that only God can forgive sin. Jesus healed and even raised people from the dead. My track record in those two columns is nil. Jesus preached and spoke with authority, as one from God. Jesus walked on water. Turned water into wine. Cleared the temple. Fed thousands with a Lunch-able. You get my point.

So I was thinking—as heretical as this sounds—that a better question to ask yourself as a Christian is simply "What would Paul do?"

Hold on, before you pick up stones to stone me. Paul himself wrote "Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1). Throughout his teaching, Paul seemed to have an uncanny grasp of how the Gospel impacted our everyday life. It speaks into our marriages, our employment, our relationships. The list goes on and on.

So perhaps "WWPD?" is too near-heretical to be beneficial for most Christians. But I would suggest that there are better alternatives to WWJD that actually have biblically grounded answers we can directly apply to our lives. Try this one on for size: "Based on the Gospel, what would Jesus have me do?" So, does anyone want to buy a BOTG,WWJHMD? bracelet?


Matthew Miller said...

I beg to differ. Jesus may be compltely God but he is not completely other. Hebrews tells us that he was made like his brothers in "everyway." Jesus is entirely like us.

Jared Totten said...


I completely agree and I didn't want this post to downplay his humanity at all. In fact, I considered addressing the reality that Jesus has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. So certainly there is at least some validity in the WWJD question.

However, I think it's a move in the right direction when we step away from "Jesus as a moral example" (What Would Jesus Do) and step towards "Jesus as savior" (What Has Jesus Done). In suggesting that there may be a better question than WWJD, I am suggesting that the true Christian life is lived in light of the whole Gospel, not merely in light of Jesus' exemplary life. And this was the thrust of all of Paul's writings.

Josh said...

Hey Jared. I agree with you overall. However, read the gospels sometime and notice how many of His miracles are clearly a direct exercise of His own divinity and how many may possibly be done in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Elisha raises a boy from the dead (2 Kings 4), Paul raises a man from the dead (Acts 20), so does that mean they were divine? No, it was the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Himself says "He can do nothing of Himself but only what He sees the Father doing" (John 5:19, 30). Also, 1 Peter 2:21 speaks of Jesus as our example to follow.

So, I agree with the focus on the power of the gospel. However, Jesus also models a perfect walk with God in the power of the Holy Spirit. His sinless, divine nature gives Him a bit of an advantage over us but that does not get us off the hook of following Him.

My two cents. By the way, we still need to get coffee sometime.

Jared Totten said...


I am offended. Are you implying I don't have a perfect walk with God in the power of the Holy Spirit?

I completely agree, and I appreciate you comments in balance to my own.

However, while I did focus on the miraculous of Jesus' ministry, I think most people use the WWJD mantra as a reminder in more day-to-day situations.

So my central question was, in those sort of situations, what is a more practical (yet still biblical) reminder to have around your wrist?

True Treasures in Life said...

Great post brothers...foundyour blog on Paul on a google search-
I find this all very interesting (go to my web site below). The real question is "What Would Jesus Have Me Do?" in any given situation, time or circumstance in my daily walk/life? Love, forgive (that's a hard one) keep the Sabbath Holy, Pray, Have Faith, etc. etc. etc. The answers are all found in the Bible---yes the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the answer to What Would Jesus Have ME do? More at MVC