Summary: Discipleship message inspired by the book, In His Steps, by Charles M. Sheldon.

"WWJD" - Getting Past the Fad

Philippians 2:5-11

February 27, 2005


Next week we start a 5-part series touching the life of Christ to take us through the Lenten and Easter Season.

But today I want us to discuss something that’s been on my heart for quite some time, and I referenced it back a few weeks ago as we looked at developing a passion for becoming like Christ in discipleship.

And I wanted to dig a little deeper into what discipleship is all about.

Most of us are familiar with the question, "What would Jesus do?" right?

It was a hugely popular question back in the eighties, and every so often comes up again and is popular for a little while before dying down for a while. But do you know what the source of the question was, originally?

It’s from a book called, In His Steps, by Charles M. Sheldon. This book, which first came out in 1896, centers around the lives of some people who have pledged to do nothing for a year without first asking the question, "What would Jesus do," regardless of what the possible consequences might be.

And it leads to major redefinition of their idea of discipleship, as they try to form their lives around what they believe Jesus would do in their situation, whether it was the newspaper editor, the railroad superintendent, the sought-after singer, or others.

It’s not always an easy journey - in fact, it’s rather rough at times, as the characters are misunderstood and mischaracterized, even by those within the church. But they live on, living by conviction.

The problem is that when some well-meaning believers back in the 80’s began a campaign of attempting to revitalize discipleship using this very valid question, many took it to the point of it becoming a joke.

It became a source of "Christian fashion" within the church. If you didn’t have a "WWJD" bracelet, ring, or Bible cover, you might be considered less than spiritual. But you could always run to the local gift shop and get whatever you needed to help you live up to their outward expectations.

Okay, here’s where I need you to be brave. How many of you had SOMETHING with "WWJD" written on it?

It’s okay - be honest. If it’s too many people, we’ll have a special healing session after the service, okay?

Outside of the church, "WWJD" became a joke as many who didn’t love Christ adopted some of the fashion simply to mock the bandwagon attitude of many Christians.

One time I saw a comic book that took the WWJD and changed the J to a Superman symbol - it was a Superman comic, obviously.

But you know what? The question is one that we really need to ask, if we’re serious about living for Christ. Living for Christ is another definition of the word, "discipleship."

Back a few weeks ago, we looked at a definition of a disciple, and I’d like us to review that for our time this morning.

Definition - (Vine’s): "mathetes" - literally, a learner - indicating thought accompanied by endeavor. A disciple was not only a pupil but an adherent; hence they are spoken of as imitators of their teacher.

The point of the book, In His Steps, and the question, "What would Jesus do?" is that to be effective disciples, we need to be imitators of Jesus.

Today we’re going to look at a passage of Scripture that will help us to get a handle on how we can get past the fad of WWJD and into making it a reality in our lives.

I’d like you to turn in your Bibles to Philippians 2:5-11 - (p. 831) as we take a look at how we can really move to a deeper level of discipleship.

But before we do that, let me just give you the bottom line of what I’m hoping to communicate to day, and that is this:

The key to getting past the fad is to become serious about imitating Jesus.

One definition of a disciple is one who imitates their teacher, right? Well, let’s look at verse five of our passage to get the basic cornerstone of where I want to go.

Verse 5 - Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Does it say the same as the pastor’s? No. Does it say the same as the your favorite TV character? Does it say the same as your favorite politician?

During our time this morning, I want to give just three examples from this passage about what imitating Jesus is all about, and my hope is that you will walk out of here today with a desire to do just that.

And while I may not be able to tell you just what Jesus would do in how to raise pigs, or teach school, or be an attorney, I think I can confidently tell you what Jesus would do in the general day-to-day living of the Christian life.

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