Some years ago a fad swept through the ranks of evangelical Christians. In order to inspire believers to be more thoughtful in their conduct the acronym WWJD began to be published in every possible venue. The acronym stood for, “What Would Jesus Do?”, and soon it adorned all sorts of clothing, jewelry, signage, and bumper stickers. It was a call for believers to follow the Lord’s example in all their daily affairs. Like most fads it passed about as quickly as it had arisen.
Any attempt to get us to focus on following the example of our Lord should be commended. This is, after all, what we’ve been called to do by scripture. In 1 Pet. 2:21-24 Peter said, “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed.”
We sometimes sing a song that echoes this principle. It is entitled, “Footprints of Jesus.” The first stanza says, “Sweetly, Lord, have we heard Thee calling, ‘Come follow Me!’ And we see where Thy footprints falling lead us to Thee.” The remaining stanzas speak of following the Lord to seek His sheep and to help the weak, to preach the word and to serve the Lord. The final stanza speaks of following His footprints all the way to heaven itself. The chorus proclaims, “We will follow the steps of Jesus, where e’er they go.”
We love to sing this song, but do we fully understand what it means to walk in the footsteps of Jesus? The song paints the Christian walk in broad stokes, and in the context of the high and noble aspects of following the Lord. Peter’s statement, on the other hand, speaks more to the nuts and bolts of Christian living. The things of which Peter spoke are not the kinds of things for which recognition and acclaim are given, or about which songs are sung. They are the “down in the trenches” aspects of Christian living, and they are, ultimately, what sets us apart as true followers of the Lord.
According to Peter, our Lord set the example by not committing sin. This is the most daunting aspect of following the Lord’s example because on our own we are incapable of sinless living. It is not impossible, however, because John promised Christians that if we walk in the light the blood of Jesus cleanses us from our sins (1 Jn. 1:7-9). Thus our sins are covered, and are not counted against us. The other aspects of the Lord’s example, as Peter stated them, are well within our human ability to achieve.
Never being deceitful is a choice we make, and we can all do this. Refusing to return verbal abuse or threats to those who utter them to us is something we all can do. Entrusting ourselves to God the righteous judge is also well within our capabilities as humans. There is simply no excuse for not following the Lord’s example in these ways.
Of course we are able to do these things because the Lord bore our sins on the cross. He did this so we could die to sin and live righteously. The Lord’s sacrifice on the cross heals us from all the wounds of life, and it enables us to follow His example of godly living.
If we are serious about going to heaven, we must follow the example of Jesus. He walked through life just as we do, and if we follow His footsteps, He will lead us all the way home.