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How to Make “What Would Jesus Do?” a Truly Helpful Question

Frustrated man holding his face in his hand
October 10, 2018

“What Would Jesus Do?” can be a deeply insightful question.

Or not.

“NOT?” you may ask.

I think for some of us it is not helpful or insightful. It can be frustrating.

Years ago, I didn’t find it to be helpful. “I don’t know what Jesus would do in this situation,” I often thought. “I’m in a tough spot right now. It’s crazy hard and confusing. And asking myself what Jesus would do is turning up a big zip. Zero.”

It was irritating because I understood that asking myself that question should be helpful. I should get a response or some kind of insight. What was wrong with me? Why was this famous question not working for me in my uniquely challenging situation?

How the Light of Jesus Changed My Thinking

Most often, we’re not getting insights about what Jesus would do because we don’t know enough about him, we don’t believe in him deeply enough, and we’re not living close enough to him. We’re not “living in his presence” often enough. The eyes of our heart aren’t focused on him. We haven’t learned to “see him” yet.

But when we do learn to believe, love and follow him (“living in his presence”), things change and insights come.

I’ll share a positive example.

During a particularly busy workday, I was stressed about something I was writing. It wasn’t working. A deadline loomed. Freaking out!

I sat back. My eyes widened as I remembered my wife had asked me to help her with something the night before.

My wife, Helen, is disabled and she was going on a trip all alone in about 3 hours. This is frightening for her. The previous night, she had wanted me to pack up her scooter into the car. But it has a seat that was almost impossible to get on and off, making it useless to her when I’m not around to help.

I had tried various things to fix it in the past but it still took a gorilla on steroids to pull that darn seat off of the vertical support. I reminded my wife that she would not be able to do it without me (the gorilla).

So she fell asleep a little discouraged because she really preferred the scooter over her wheelchair. I felt bad as I dozed off but I didn’t know what else to do.

As I was sitting back from writing, a thought came to me.

I didn’t literally ask myself “What would Jesus do?” but I reflected. “What could possibly be more important? I really need to fix that thing . . . and now. What am I gonna do?”

Now I’m no mechanical genius. Quite the opposite. But as I pondered how I might fix that seat, I pictured lightly grinding down the seat’s silver support rod that goes into the vertical tube. And oil it. (Don’t laugh. I know that’s obvious, but to me, it was like comprehending E=MCfor the first time.)

I walked away from my writing with new hope and gave it my best.

Not surprisingly, it worked. It worked spectacularly. Easy rotation, on, off, up, down. Oh my goodness, it worked. I sighed in relief. “She will be thrilled.” My sweet wife will be thrilled that I didn’t give up. (And she was.)

Why This Story Matters

This is what can happen when we genuinely believe in and know Jesus Christ. There’s a light of understanding that stimulates ideas.

In my story, the prompting to love someone and do something
came because of Jesus’s constant light in my life.

Many people of many faiths and backgrounds do good things for many reasons. I’m not discounting that. But I have experienced—and I’m here to testify—that as my belief and understanding of Jesus Christ has grown, a very real desire to good has increased inside me. The more I’ve studied the life of Jesus and tried to follow him, this new type of thinking become wired into my heart and mind.

This story is not about me. It’s a testimony of what Jesus does for us and how he changes us.

This simple little incident illustrates the heart-changing impact of the eternal light of Jesus Christ.

So, how do we make, “What Would Jesus Do?” a beneficial question?

It’s the back-to-basics prep work.

  1. We study his life.
  2. We truly and deeply believe in him.
  3. We begin to admire, love, and desire to be like him.
  4. We develop a pattern of meekly walking after him.

So, what do we do when we’re not getting answers after we ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?”

Get back to the basics:
Study his life, believe, admire, and walk after him. 

Then Jesus’s light fills us and changes our priorities and our ability to do good, even in maddening, complex situations.

What crazy, confusing situations are you facing? Who needs love in your life but you’re not sure how to provide it?

Get back to the basics:
Study his life, believe, admire, and walk after him. 

Can You Share Your Experiences?

If you’ve experienced challenges or successes in learning to follow Jesus, won’t you share with others? Please contact me and consider a brief phone conversation to share your stories.

See how you can jump-start or deepen your ability to follow Christ with my new book, Jesus Christ, His Life and Mine.


Estimated Reading Time:
2 – 3 Minutes

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