Terry Walton


I Was Thinking…

I’m not one who thinks that clichés are necessarily profound.  However, they do become a cliché for a reason.  I suppose that reason is that several someones thought there was profound meaning in the phrase or saying and thus a cliché is born.

Charles Sheldon’s 1896 book entitled In His Steps was subtitled “What Would Jesus Do?”  The ethos of Sheldon’s approach to Christian life was expressed in the phrase “What Would Jesus Do?”  In the novel, Rev. Henry Maxwell encounters a homeless man who challenges him to take seriously the imitation of Christ.  The homeless man has difficulty understanding why, in his view, so many Christians ignore the poor and so he seeks explanation from Rev. Maxwell: 

“I heard some people singing at a church prayer meeting the other night, ‘All for Jesus, all for Jesus, All my being ransomed powers, All my thoughts, and all my doings, All my days and all my hours.’  And I kept wondering as I sat on the steps outside just what they meant by it.  It seems to me there’s an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn’t exist if all the people who sing such songs went and lived them out.  I suppose I don’t understand.  But what would Jesus do?  It seems to me sometimes as if the people in the churches have good clothes and nice houses to live in, and money  to spend for luxuries, and they go away on summer vacations and all that, while people outside the churches, thousands of them die in tenements, and walk the streets for jobs and never have a piano or a picture in the house, and grow up in misery and drunkenness and sin.” 

This led to the novel’s character asking, “What would Jesus do?”

A youth group leader in Holland, Michigan, named Janie Tinklenberg, began a grassroots movement to help teenagers in her group remember the phrase ‘What Would Jesus Do?’; it spread worldwide in the 1990s among Christian youth, who wore bracelets bearing the initials WWJD.

A Cliché?  Perhaps.  Only a creative acronym?  Maybe.  Profound?  Could be.  But this one thing lives in my heart and soul…In this world so divided and in the United Methodist Church which mirrors more of the world than the world sees Christ in us, it may be worth asking ourselves over and over again…What Would Jesus Do?  If we did, the world might be attracted to us who claim the name of Christ rather than distrust us who only fight among ourselves.

By the time you read this article, the North Georgia Annual Conference will be converging and convening in Athens, Georgia.  It is intended to be a time of ‘Holy Conferencing’.  If we ask ourselves on a very regular basis, with every conversation, with every vote, with every relationship, with everything discussed…What Would Jesus Do?  We might discover a power larger than ourselves empowering us to be people who properly bear the name of ‘Christian’.  There is nothing magic in that cliché WWJD, but there is a power in the meaning behind it.  May the Spirit of Jesus reign among us!  Help us, Lord, to be the Body of Christ!

Always Thinking,

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