What Would Jesus Do?

Chances are, you've seen kids in your church wearing bracelets with the initials WWJD--which stand for "What Would Jesus Do?"

Well I've seen them too--but it was only recently that I learned the exciting story behind those bracelets.

It begins a century ago, when a minister named Charles Sheldon wrote a novel called "In His Steps." The setting is an ordinary city called Raymond, and one Sunday morning at First Church, Pastor Henry Maxwell is preaching a sermon about how to follow Christ's example of sacrificial love.

The service is suddenly interrupted when a tramp stands up and walks to the front of the sanctuary. He's been out of work for a year, he says, yet not a single person in Raymond has helped him find another job--not even Pastor Maxwell.

Twisting his shabby hat in his hands, the tramp says, "I was wondering if what you call following Jesus is the same thing as what he taught. What do you mean when you sing 'I'll go with Him, with Him, all the way?'"

"I get puzzled," the tramp goes on, "when I see so many Christians living in luxury and remembering how my wife died in a tenement. A member of this church was the owner of that tenement. It seems there's an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn't exist if all the people who sing such songs went and lived them out. I suppose I don't understand. But what would Jesus do?"

At that point to the congregation's horror, the tramp collapses and dies.

The following Sunday, the minister makes a stunning proposal. He's looking for volunteers willing to pledge themselves for an entire year to do nothing without first asking the question, "What would Jesus do?" The volunteers must then do exactly that--no matter what the consequences.

Some 50 people make the pledge, and almost at once, a remarkable series of events begins to take place.

The editor of the local newspaper has been accepting lucrative ads from the local saloons. Would Jesus do this? No, he decides--and cancels the ads.

A young singer gives up a promising career on the stage to sing at tent meetings on Skid Row. A young heiress takes in a homeless woman, to the horror of her fashionable family. A businessman decides that Jesus wants him to make his tenements as warm and comfortable as his own home.

Some of these people pay a high price for their obedience. They lose jobs, fortunes, family, and friends--just as Jesus warned--but they also learn joy of following faithfully in His footsteps.

A few years ago, a youth leader in Holland, Michigan was so inspired by this classic that she had bracelets made bearing the letters "WWJD" and gave them to the kids in her church. The idea caught fire, and today millions of kids wear them.

If your kids are among them, ask them if they know the story behind the bracelets. If they don't, give them a copy of "In His Steps." It's a book millions have enjoyed over the century.

Long after they've given up wearing the bracelets, through all the trials and temptations of life, it may inspire your kids to ask that one quiet question: "What would Jesus do?"

© Sidney Colson

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