Friday, March 11, 2011

What Would Jesus Do?

I have always thought that the question 'What would Jesus do?' is a very good question. The fact that some conservative folk in America popularised the question with bracelets sporting the initials WWJD and what have you does not alter the fact that this is a very good question to apply to many situations in life. It has a very good biblical basis in 1 John 2:6, "whoever says they abide in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked."

How do we walk in the same way that Jesus Christ walked? What would Jesus do? Beyond perennial debates about 'Scripture, reason and tradition' for Anglican Christians as we work out what we should be doing is the question of what Jesus would have us do. When we revise liturgy, for instance, are our revisions taking us closer to the heart and mind of Christ or further away? Does our understanding of ministry orders get consistently renewed towards Christ's vision for apostleship and service or away from it (perhaps stuck in one century or other of Christendom's history)?

Here in quake damaged if not destroyed Christchurch as we engage with long-term questions of rebuilding churches (or not), many parishes have short-term questions of what congregational worship should consist of when the gathering takes place in a spartan church hall, on a lawn outside a cracked building, in a tent, and so forth. Depending on the venue some of the normal expectations of a worship service cannot be met: perhaps no organ, maybe vestments remain locked in a cupboard in a redstickered building, or there is no time for the usual length of service because toilets are not available.  This could be a good opportunity to review what we usually do, and why we do it, asking ourselves 'what would Jesus do?' That is, what is vital to Christ-centred worship and what is not? What is faithful to Jesus in the gospels and his vision of the future of his missional movement? How should we worship God in a structured service with sound content which exemplifies the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ when the new context forces us to ask fundamental questions about the style of what we do (e.g. our robes, our actions, our ancillary helps (choirs, music groups, musical instruments)).

Though I do not say much on this blog about my own personal vision for Anglicanism in the 21st century, bubbling away, without much formation yet, is an increasing conviction that we must refind what Jesus would have us do as a greater priority than restoring the glories of the Reformation or the medieval English church or Celtic Christianity or Laudianism or whatever period takes our fancy!


Fr. Bryan Owen said...

"What would Jesus do?" That's a good and important question, but quite often the way it gets answered is: "Jesus would do what I think we should do!" (Funny how that can happen ...)

It seems to me that there have to be other criteria than just this question alone for engaging in discernment. That may be especially true for those of us who live in cultural contexts of hyper-individualism.

In the meantime, I am confident that one thing Jesus would do is encourage us to continue praying for the people of Christchurch!

Pageantmaster said...

Perhaps it is worth looking out those neglected services like morning prayer? Vestments, audio-visual and stuff not needed for that. Prayers still continuing for you all.

Brother David said...

Now praying for the people of Japan who have experienced an 8.8 quake and tsunami.