It was one of the coolest things I owned. It was what every young Christian was wearing those days. It was an outward symbol of being apart of a larger community. Something that could show the world who I really was. It was something that let people know what kind of person they were dealing with. A Christian. I dawned this piece of attire with pride, passion, and vigor. It was something I never left home without. It was brightly colored, red, if I recall. On this piece of woven cloth, there were four letters present. Everyone at the time knew what they meant. W.W.J.D? “What would Jesus do?” to translate.
This served as a reminder for me, and for many hip Christian youth like myself about how to live the Christian life. If ever faced with a challenging situation, I could simply look down and ask myself, “What would Jesus do?” I will admit, I probably wasn’t always certain about the response or answer to that question. Generally, it would have amounted so something along the lines of the Golden Rule, do unto others as you would have done unto yourself. It served as a reminder that as a Christian, I ought to live and act the way Jesus did.
Yet, when I was that age. I didn’t understand what that meant. What it would take to do what Jesus did. I didn’t understand the real answer to the question, “What would Jesus do?” Because the real answer to the question is this, Jesus would die. Now of course, don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean literally, at least not yet. But, yes, Jesus would die, and he calls his followers to die as well. Jesus says things like, “Pick up your cross, and follow me.” “If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to them the other cheek.” “If a soldier makes you carry his shield one mile, walk with him two miles.” “If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” “Those who are first will be last, and the last first.” And of course, Jesus speaks of it being better to die for the faith than to fight for it. Of course, not all these things are calling for someone to physically die. Yet, there is dying, nonetheless. Dying to yourself.
So, of course, it doesn’t always look like physical death, but it does require us to die to ourselves. When someone wrongs us, we don’t seek to get even or strive for revenge. Instead we turn the other cheek, we forgive and seek reconciliation. When someone takes advantage of us, we don’t seek to take them for all their worth. Instead we show mercy and generosity. When the world hates us, and seeks to kill us, we don’t retaliate and fight. Instead we boldly confess Christ whom they hated first. We die to ourselves, as Christ died himself. And even more so, if that day ever comes when our faith leads us to lay our lives down on account of Christ, we too can not only die to ourselves, but we can ourselves, die.
This is what the Christian is called to do, for this is what Jesus did. He died. He put the desires of the Father before his own in perfect obedience. He loved and cared for those around him, selflessly giving to those in need. He washed the feet of his disciples, in which we are reminded that the Son of Man came to serve not to be served. To serve is to die to yourself. To follow Jesus is to die to yourself. Jesus prayed “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” Jesus dies to himself by willing dying himself. Even amid death, he cries words of forgiveness to those who killed him. This is what Jesus does, and this is what Jesus would do. He dies. For me. For you. For the whole world. So, what would Jesus do? Die.