Basking in His Grace- Part 3
I think it's safe to assume we’re all familiar with the acronym “WWJD.” (Think 1990’s, my friends.) “What Would Jesus Do” was everywhere - on bumper stickers, on t-shrits, on wrist bands.
The purpose of WWJD was to motivate us to think about what Jesus would do in any given situation rather than what we, as sinners, would do in that circumstance.
For example, let’s say I’m driving my swagger wagon down I-95, enjoying the final and glorious days of summer, and singing loudly to my fave new song on K-love, when out of nowhere “angry guy” in his fancy pants car cuts in front of me, causes me to slam on my brakes and lose all the yummy feelings I'm experiencing, and the vengeful thoughts come to my mind quickly. This is where I can act on my instinct to make angry guy pay for what he’s just done or ……I can ask myself, WWJD?
In this situation, and countless others, WWJD seems like a helpful question to ask. But here's the catch:
“Jesus being my example is not really helpful if he isn’t also my righteousness.”
This is the incredible wisdom that Elyse Fitzpatrick and her daughter Jessica Thompson shared in a parenting talk at The Gospel Coalition 2012 National Women's Conference.
In their talk they asked this piercing question, “How many times have you told your children that Jesus should be their example without also telling them Jesus is their righteousness?”
It was one of those paradigm-shifting moments for me. (Then again, most of what Elyse Fitzpatrick says about parenting with grace is paradigm shifting for me.)
The profound point is this: Before we teach our kids to ask WWJD, we first have to give them WDJD- What DID Jesus do?
WDJD before WWJD = Jesus is my righteousness before He is my example
2 Corinthians 5:21
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.
Teaching our children about our desperate need for a Savior and the free gift of salvation by grace, through faith is how we teach them that their salvation and their acceptance before God is not based on whether they do or don’t behave, how well they do and don’t obey, or how often they do or don’t do what Jesus would do. They are accepted and made right with God because of Christ alone and His righteousness. They have God’s unconditional and extravagant love because of Jesus’ finished work on the cross to redeem and restore them. WDJD? He became sin,who knew no sin, that we might become His righteousness.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
This is grace as our staring place. We help our children understand who He is, what He did for us, and what His nature is towards us. He is our great rescuer and steadfast advocate. He is our perfectly compassionate Father and our very best friend. He is the creator of the world and the lover of our souls.
This is indeed who Jesus really is, and this is how He longs to be experienced by our children! He is nothing less, but certainly so much more, than we can ever begin to fathom. And as our children experience Jesus in this way and they grow in knowledge of WDJD, their hearts are stirred to ask WWJD?
Jesus’ love has to transform our hearts before it can transform our actions.
My desire to live as Jesus did flows from my gratitude for what He has already done. And when my obedience is rooted in what Jesus has already done for me, there is no room for pride or despair. There is only room for Christ to live His life through me.
See, when I live my life with my primary question being WWJD (as I have done for most of my life) one of two things happens. I either become prideful at my ability to not cut off the bad driver and I think, “I am Godly and he is not. He cut me off but because I am so holy and I ask myself WWJD, I will not do as that sinner did.” OR, I soak in despair because I did speed up and let the bad driver know exactly what I thought of him, and then I think, “Ugh. I just gave the special finger to that man in front of my kids and I don’t feel any better. In fact I only feel worse. I’m such a bad example.”
But when I live my life with my primary thought being WDJD, I am set free. No matter how I respond, I am unconditionally loved and accepted by God in Jesus Christ. He does not love me more when I respond with kindness and He does not love me less when I respond in haste. And as this knowledge permeates my heart, my desire to love and live as He did grows deeper and stronger. His grace motivates.
Being loved by God is not the result of my obedience to God. Rather, my obedience to God is the result of knowing I am unconditionally loved by God. This is why WDJD precedes WWJD.
1 John 2: 5-6
But those who obey God’s word truly show how completely they love him. That is how we know we are living in him. Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did.
Living as Jesus lived, making Him my example, and desiring to be an imitator of Him flows from the gratitude that consumes me when I think about the answer to the question WDJD?
He lived a sinless life, endured death on the cross, and rose again, just as He promised, all on my behalf. That’s what makes me want to love what Jesus loves and do what Jesus would do. I want to honor Him. I want to glorify Him. I want to praise Him. I want to live my life as a love offering to Him. Not because it’s what I’m supposed to do, but because my heart has been stirred and captivated by WDJD. It has been captivated by His grace.
1 John 2:1
My dear children, I am writing this to you so that you will not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate who pleads our case before the Father. He is Jesus Christ, the one who is truly righteous.
And when I fail at WWJD, which I do A LOT, I can rely on the righteousness of Christ. So while He is my example, just as Scripture instructs, He is first and foremost my righteousness. This is the GOOD NEWS we can give our children. WDJD is the good news- the grace- that motivates WWJD.
Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God.