Is sure sounds hard, at least when you first encounter it. A simple verse in the middle of a small letter in the back of the Bible, packed with implications. Written in a letter to the churches in his old age, the Apostle John makes this straightforward statement, “...whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.” (1 John 2:6) Hmm. Walking as Jesus walked? Yeah, and it does sound kind of hard!
For the past five weeks, the Elders have been working together through Dann Spader’s 10-week workbook, “Walking As Jesus Walked.” Subtitled, “Making Disciples The Way Jesus Did”, we have been both challenged and excited about our journey together. We see this study giving us a vehicle to move to the next level in becoming a church who ‘Make disciples who make disciples who make disciples.’
When you stop and think about it, Walking as Jesus Walked does seem daunting, but must not be impossible or John wouldn’t have said it. In fact, it appears that John is reminding his readers that this is the default view of a Christian! The tension mounts, of course, when we begin to imagine that ‘walking as Jesus walked’ involves living in perfection... it doesn’t take much life experience to become acutely aware of our shortcomings! Perhaps the pressure might be relieved if we consider the possibility that the outcome might be a bit less important than the process?
In the old rabbinical tradition, a disciple was one who attached himself to a master teacher and then began the process of becoming a replica of his Rabbi; observing, mimicking, walking, stumbling, studying, fumbling, learning, and exploring as he walked with that teacher through everyday life. The expectation was, that over the course of time, similarities would begin to emerge with the disciple progressively reflecting more and more of his master’s ways in thinking and in action. It was a very organic and personal process, with success being measured in personal and relational terms as much as in the results.
In Spader’s book, “Four Chair Discipling,” he puts it this way: “When in doubt, don’t ask “W.W.J.D.” (What Would Jesus Do?) First study to see W.D.J.D. (What Did Jesus Do?). Jesus showed us how to live in a sin-soaked world, and He did it perfectly. Our ultimate goal is to become like Him in every thought and deed.” Note the subtle change from the more common challenge, “What would...” to “What did...” The process moves away from formulating abstract ideas about what Jesus might do to knowing well the heart and ways of Jesus by studying what He actually did!
This might explain how one could become a Christian, attend church regularly, even have a regular quiet time, and still have little change in thought or actions. The WWJD can leave out the knowing, where the WDJD invites us to become like Him. Warts and all. Stumbling. Fumbling. Becoming.