So many Christians in this world, who are otherwise faithful disciples of Jesus, go about their day with a strong desire in their hearts to live according to his words, yet they so often fail to listen to what he is saying. Confused?
You've seen the bracelets that beg the question, WWJD? or "What Would Jesus Do?" It is a call to ponder our actions and see if they are in-line with what Christ would do if he were in our shoes. And that is wonderful! But it isn't enough.
The problem with only asking "WWJD?" is that it puts the Savior "somewhere out there" as if he were in another plane of existence or on some far off planet without any real connection to our present lives. Many of us ask what Jesus would do if he were there with us as if he was absent when the truth is that his mighty heart aches to be close to us every single day. We should not ask what Jesus would do IF he were there; we must ask what he would have us do because he IS here with us. See the difference?
Over the years through times of difficulty, fear, sickness and even loss I would look at the painting of the Savior on the hillside and imagine that I was walking some quiet dusty path to go sit by his side. I could smell the flowers from the garden nearby and hear the leaves rustling on the trees. I imagined seeing all the busy hub-bub of Jerusalem itself, but most of all I imagined Jesus' smile as I sat beside him. I felt his love, his warmth, his genuine concern for the cares of my soul.
And oh, how we talked. From dating to bobsled, financial worries to desires to improve as a man, I opened my heart to him time and time again on that hillside. We laughed, we cried, we hugged, we sang, we relived some of my best days, some of my worst and even some of my most embarrassing. Oh yes, I truly believe that the Lord has a sense of humor and wants us to have a joyful heart.
And through it all, although I did indeed leave his church for over five years, I came to know the true depth of his words, "O Jerusalem...how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings..." (Mathew 23:37). They were not words of condemnation towards the children of Israel, as I so often thought as a youth. Rather, these were beautiful words of lamentation spoken by the very God of Israel because of his love for each and every one of them.
I realized that the sorrow on the Savior's face in Greg Olsen's painting was because so many of his brothers and sisters ignored his words, his care, his healing power while he was right there with them. Again, I can't help but wonder if he feels the same pain now for the same reason: because so many of us forget (or simply don't know) this simple fact that he is not to be found in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, he is no longer on the cross, and he is not lingering in the garden where he suffered indescribable pains for our sins. He is not on the roads to Emmaus or Damascus nor is he on a boat on the Sea of Galilee or in the Judea Wilderness. While the legacy of his life can be found in those places, Jesus Christ can only be found in our lives if we but have the courage, the humility, and the faith to let him in.
Asking what Jesus would do affects our relationship to others, but asking what Jesus would say to us opens up our relationship to him in beautiful and miraculous ways. And if you truly want to be successful in the former, you must strengthen the latter.
So this Easter I want to issue you a challenge: instead of spending so much time asking WWJD, I want you to ask instead, WWJS, or What Would Jesus Say. What would he say to you? What burdens are you carrying that you need him to lighten? What advice and counsel do you need from the Master Teacher? What ails your heart or your mind of your very soul that requires healing from the Chief Physician? Take some time over Easter and imagine yourself sitting on that hillside overlooking Jerusalem. Breath in the garden air, feel the breeze on your face. But most of all, imagine the Savior sitting beside you and let his love, a love we cannot possibly comprehend as feeble mortals, roll over you like a perfect sunrise.
What Would Jesus Say? Only you can discover that for yourselves. I do know, however, that if you try this mental and spiritual experiment, you will proclaim the words of those two disciples on the road to Emmaus, "Did not (my) heart burn within (me), while he talked with (me) by the way...?" (Luke 24:32).
I know he lives, and because he lives so will you and so will I and one day all our cares and troubles will fall away and we will see that sweet smile on his face as he embraces us once more and says, "Welcome home." So doubt not, fear not. Move forward with faith, with hope and with an unquenchable light inside your soul. WWJS? He would say, "I love you, my friend. I will always be with you."
Happy Easter. -Jeremy