Perception vs. Word of Life

by Rayola Kelley

Iam sure you are aware of one of the latest crazes or fads in Christendom. It centers around three letters of the alphabet: WWJD. Most of us know what these letters stand for: What Would Jesus Do?

Ifor one have read and enjoyed Charles Sheldon’s classic, IN HIS STEPS, which presents the same type of concept. I’m sure when Sheldon wrote the book he never foresaw that a similar idea would turn into a popular fad years later. The problem with fads is they become a means of merchandising the kingdom of God in the name of Jesus.

The reason I enjoyed Sheldon’s book is because you could tell his intention was not to create a fad or some means to obtain money through a religious cause or movement. He simply wanted to challenge Christians to be aware of the fact that they are not here to serve self but to properly represent and serve Jesus.

Recently, I read a statement that made me reconsider some of my own attitudes about WWJD. The statement went something like this: “We should not ask ourselves what would Jesus do about a matter but rather what would Jesus say about it.”

This statement went into my spirit like a lightening bolt. Is there a difference between what Jesus would do and what He would say? The answer is yes because these two approaches can be worlds apart depending on the person.

Over the years when I have ministered to people I have found that their biggest problem rests with their perception of God. We know that there are many different presentations and beliefs about Jesus. This simply means there are a lot of different Jesus’s being promoted even in the Christian realm.

This is why Jesus did not ask Peter if he believed in Him but rather who he truly believed Him to be(Matthew 16:13-17).

The Apostle Paul also made reference to the presentations of a different Jesus in 2 Corinthians 11:3-4. He was concerned that people would get away from the simplicity that is in Christ and receive another Jesus, another spirit and another Gospel.

This brings us back to the concept of WWJD. If the person’s perception of Jesus is not correct, then how can he or she really know what Jesus would do in any situation? If a person knows another Jesus then it only stands to reason that they will respond according to the wrong Jesus instead of according to the Son of God.

Another problem with the WWJD idea is that it promotes imitation rather than likeness. When you look up imitation you will find one of its meanings is counterfeit. In other words, it is not the real thing, only an image, idea or concept of something. This means a person is doing something on the basis of an indifferent concept rather than on a living entity

Imitating a parent or someone you admire may be a source of pride and honor to that person, but it is not to Jesus Christ. It simply is a form of outward conformation rather than inward transformation.

The real heart of God is not that we imitate His Son but that we become like Him. Likeness implies you actually possess the characteristics of something. To Christians, likeness actually means the life of Jesus has been resurrected in them and His characteristics are being manifested in their lives.

The question is how do I become like Him? The answer is simple—you obey His words.

Jesus did not imitate the Father when He was on earth He obeyed Him. It is only in obedience to Jesus’ words that a person can begin to know Him and take on His characteristics.

Godly obedience in the kingdom of God actually serves as an extension of Jesus. This is why He said: “If a man loves me, he will keep my words” (John 14:23).

Notice Jesus wasn’t saying if a man loves me he will imitate me. He was saying if a man loves me He will obey me or be an extension of who I am.

We know if a person obeys Jesus then they are building on the right foundation (Matthew 7:24-28). It is only in obedience that the Spirit of God unveils Jesus in greater ways. I must state if you never come to a place of obedience to Him, you will never really discover the depth and mystery of His heart, mind and will. You will simply end up having an appearance of righteousness without any power. This means you are a counterfeit of the real thing, an empty shell at best.

Jesus’ words also inspire real faith, bring cleansing, joy and life (John 6:63; 14:29; 15:3,11; Philipians 2:16).

Another area where imitating Christ will fail is where imitation is a matter of personal interpretation and debate rather than actual expression and representation of an unchanging Lord.

Jesus’ words will never change and can only be misconstrued when a person is trying to find a way around their simplicity and instruction. He said of His words that children could perceive them but those who are wise in their own eyes will stumble over them. He claimed only those pure in heart would be able to understand the spirit or intent behind His words while those who are defiled will miss the meaning and purpose of them (Matthew 13:13-15).

My real hope for people is not that they would do what they perceive Jesus would do but that they would obey His words of life. Obedience to His words is not only basic Christianity but this is the crux of the whole matter when it comes to Christian growth, authority and victory.

Here is my challenge to each of you. The next time you are challenged to be the salt of the earth or the light of the world, do not ask yourself, what would Jesus do, but ask yourself what did He say about the situation? If you can’t answer this questions you can most likely conclude one or two things about your spiritual condition.

First, you don’t know the Word. You need to begin to study the Word in order to find out what Jesus said so that you can properly respond in obedience. Remember His words are meat and the only sustaining spiritual food.

Secondly, you probably really don’t know Jesus in a personal intimate way. You may have erected another Jesus who is not only causing confusion for you but also leading you astray from the real Jesus. Do not assume you possess the right Jesus, find out. Allow the Spirit of God to reveal the real Jesus to you by seeking Him out with everything in you.

What about you? Are you an imitator of some Jesus you have erected in your mind or are you like the Son of God because He has been resurrected in your life and made a living reality?