Devotional Thought of the Day:
21 For you were called to this, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow o in His steps. 22 He did not commit sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth; 23 when He was reviled, He did not revile in return; when He was suffering, He did not threaten but entrusted Himself to the One who judges justly. 24 He Himself bore our sins in His body on the tree, so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness; you have been healed by His wounds. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but you have now returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. 1 Peter 2:21-25 HCSB
189 The way Jesus called the first twelve could not have been simpler: “Come and follow me.” Since you are always looking for excuses not to keep on with your task, there is one consideration that fits you like a glove: the human knowledge of those first apostles was very poor, and yet what an impact they made on those who listened to them! Never forget this: it is He who continues to do the work through each one of us.
I remember a couple of decades ago when everyone started wearing “WWJD” merchandise. Not many knew that the question was part of a fairly popular novel of the previous century. In His Steps is a fascinating book, the story of a pastor and a church that tried to dedicate itself to asking what Jesus would do, if He made the decisions that they were faced with, every day in life.
It’s a good book, one in which the struggles of living a Christian life are seen in how we use our time, our talents, our influence, even the pains in our lives.
I might not agree with every decision, but the exercise is not a bad one.
The passage the story wraps around is the one above, from 1 Peter, urging us to walk in His steps, urging us to be as holy as Jesus was holy, as focused on doing what is right as Jesus is.
Or at least that is how following in His steps is portrayed.
The passage goes on to describe how Jesus lived, how He calls us to follow Him in that lifestyle. An example that is pertinent today, He did not revile in return when He was reviled. That is a pretty hard standard to live up against, as we so blatantly see in our world today.
If this is just giving us a list of standards we are to meet, if we expect our lives to simply be clones of Jesus, we will fail. Just as the apostles, who were invited to follow Jesus also fell, often.
Following in HIs steps is more than just putting one foot in front of the other, It requires our focus be on Him, and How He lives. It is about hearing His voice, about heeding the encouragement He gives to us. It is about letting the Spirit form us into His image. This isn’t tracking steps outlined in the sand 2000 years ago, or even last week. It is about letting Him lead us, here and now.
Look to Jesus, the author and one who brings about maturity as you depend on Him. Look to Jesus, and let the Spirit transform you as you reflect His glory. He moves, move with Him, for He is the guardian and shepherd/guide of your souls.
The Lord is with you!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 1004-1008). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
4 Yet it was our infirmities that he bore, our sufferings that he endured, While we thought of him as stricken, as one smitten by God and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our offenses, crushed for our sins, Upon him was the chastisement that makes us whole, by his stripes we were healed. 6 We had all gone astray like sheep, each following his own way; But the LORD laid upon him the guilt of us all. 7 Though he was harshly treated, he submitted and opened not his mouth; Like a lamb led to the slaughter or a sheep before the shearers, he was silent and opened not his mouth. 8 Oppressed and condemned, he was taken away, and who would have thought any more of his destiny? When he was cut off from the land of the living, and smitten for the sin of his people, 9 A grave was assigned him among the wicked and a burial place with evildoers, Though he had done no wrong nor spoken any falsehood. 10 (But the LORD was pleased to crush him in infirmity.) If he gives his life as an offering for sin, he shall see his descendants in a long life, and the will of the LORD shall be accomplished through him. 11 Because of his affliction he shall see the light in fullness of days; Through his suffering, my servant shall justify many, and their guilt he shall bear.
Isaiah 53:4-11 (NAB)
343 If you are aware of God’s presence, high above the deafening storm, the sun will always be shining on you; and deep below the roaring and destructive waves, peace and calm will reign in your soul.
I’ve seen some versions of a post that not only mocks the concept of WWJD, but also mocks Jesus, and His call to love our neighbors. They says that if we are going to consider What Would Jesus Do, it is in the realm of possibility that it would include beating people with whips and knocking over tables.
But too often, our zeal is not for the alien and foreigner to find a place to pray, to know God’s comfort and peace. That place where Jesus did that was for the outsider, the unbeliever, the skeptic and the seeker who would pray, who would benefit from seeing the love and mercy of God pour out into their lives.
We aren’t that zealous about that… though we should be.
WWJD comes from a book by Charles Sheldon, who tells the story of a pastor and a movement who has to deal with someone dying in front of them, a stranger who asked for help, and received too little. The guilt drives them to the cross for forgiveness, and then to seek out how to live differently. To imitate those who imitated Christ, like St Stephen and St. Paul. It is not an impossible thing, it is not a touchy, feel good thing. It is the hardest of challenges, and therefore requires a superhuman effort and motivation.
Motivation not from guilt, but from receiving mercy, a motivation that comes from the presence of God in our lives healing.
Without that, the idea of living like Christ, of sacrificing self so that others could be reconciled and know forgiveness doesn’t make sense. Without Christ’s presence, we don’t desire reconciliation; we desire revenge. Without dwelling in His peace, we don’t desire to lay our lives down in service to others; we desire to protect our lives, our way of living. That sense of self-preservation will tell us that WWJD is wrong, it will justify it because we are sinners, and it will tell us that striving for this, isn’t necessary.
Without the presence of Christ, Isaiah 53 is simply a prophecy. In His presence, this prophecy saves us, and becomes our joy and our way of life. And our deepest desire is to see our enemies receive healing, to know mercy, to walk with God. Our deepest regret is when someone dies without that comfort, when someone lives without that peace. We don’t look at WWJD as law, but as the way of life, we are given. And when we fail, we run back to the hope of the one which
St Josemaria is correct, if we are in His presence, if we realize His comfort and peace, if we know mercy, it changes everything. We simply live in the Kingdom of God, and the storms and struggles are what they are.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1353-1355). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional thought of the day:
105 Your word is a lamp to guide me and a light for my path. 106 I will keep my solemn promise to obey your just instructions. 107 My sufferings, LORD, are terrible indeed; keep me alive, as you have promised. 108 Accept my prayer of thanks, O LORD, and teach me your commands. 109 I am always ready to risk my life; I have not forgotten your law. 110 The wicked lay a trap for me, but I have not disobeyed your commands. 111 Your commandments are my eternal possession; they are the joy of my heart. 112 I have decided to obey your laws until the day I die. Psalm 119:105-112 (TEV)
881 Sacrifice yourself, give yourself, and work at souls one by one, as the jeweller works on precious stones: one by one. Indeed you should exercise even more care, because you are dealing with something of incomparable value. The purpose of that spiritual attention you give is to prepare good instruments for the service of God: and they, each one of them, have cost Christ all of his Blood. (1)
We should fear love and trust God in God above all things… and so…(2)
Over the past decade, people have taken polar sides on for little letters WWJD. Some use it as a strong reminder, an encouragement to strive against sin, especially sin of ommission. Some see it as a condemning law, a standard that can only beat people into the earth as they fail and fail again. The odd thing is that many in the latter group extol the liturgical use of confession and absolution, whereas the former group often dismisses the sacrament.
As usual, I find a third way to look at it, a different route to take.
For years churches have sung a song written with the first verse of the reading from Psalm 119 above. It is a good worship song, a prayer that is not unlike a modern Kyrie, asking Jesus our Lord to have mercy on our journey.
But how often do we look at the path described, the hardship the determination of the writer to be faithful during trial, to treasure the commandments? Are we ready and determined to risk our very lives in doing that which the Lord has willed – to assist those who need to come to repentance, to be trasnformed by the very love and mercy of God? How can we live following the path that God’s light, His glory illuminates for us?
So do we give up? Do we take the theologians escape route, and say that this passage is a prophetic look at Jesus, and is to much of a burden for us? THat it is only about Christ?
No, we cannot. This psalm is our cry as much as Christ’s, indeed it is ours the moment we are claimed by God, as the Holy Spirit quickens, brings to life our heart. (see Ezekiel 36:25ff and Ezekiel 37:1-12, Acts 2:37-39 and Titus 2:2-8) Realize that walking this path is what God has called us to, why he has recreated us and we are the fullness of His craftmanship – created for this very thing. To walk this path, with Christ, in Christ, To do What Jesus Would Do, for as we live in Him, He is doing this thing.
Living and working in His will that none would perish, Embracing hardships and suffering, learning from Him, being willing to risk it all – that someone else would know Jesus’ love (even those who know it already – but need the encouragement we are here to give each other). To take joy in GOd’s plan, in His providence. That is what it means to live in His presence, to have an incrantional theology, to know Christ and Him crucified…
That’s what Jesus did… and in Christ, absorbed by Him, we shall as well…..
Lord have mercy!
(1)Escriva, Josemaria (2011-01-31). The Forge (Kindle Locations 3110-3113). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
(2) Luther’s Small Catechism