Tuesday, 16 July 2013


When I was kid back in the 1970s (yep I’m THAT old) Christians would often wear a little yellow badge with a smiley face on it and the words “Jesus Loves You”, it probably started with the Jesus People or some other slightly ‘whacky’ bunch, probably in America, but pretty soon everyone was wearing them, even your parents or the local pastor.  These days teenagers and others old enough to know better wear wrist-bands with W.W.J.D on them instead; they’re easier to hide up your sleeve especially if you’re also wearing about five others wrist bands showing your opposition to bullying, your support for breast cancer awareness, A.I.D.S research or your enthusiasm for real ale! 

In case you’ve been off-planet for the last few years I shall explain that W.W.J.D stands for ‘What would Jesus do?’  Superficially it seems like a good thought; especially for a hormone ravaged Christian teenager who’s just noticed the allure of alcohol, the opposite sex, recreational drug use or all of the above. However once again I think we’re missing something.  We’re focussing on the wrong issue; we’re focusing (as ‘law’ always does) on the sin or the behaviour.  We’re hoping this magic wristband will suddenly become a powerful talisman and start glowing or get hot or tight on the wrist as danger approaches and the teenager will suddenly remember their Youth Leader’s words from the previous Sunday as he spoke on the perils of teenage pregnancy, drunkenness and memory impairment due to excessive marijuana use.  The sin-management program will kick in and they’ll remain sweet and innocent and good.  Nothing wrong with that you may say, and to some extent I agree with you, as a parent of two teenagers (and one grown-up) I hope they don’t use drugs, get pregnant before the time is right or end up drunk on someone’s floor/road/hospital bed. 

However sin-management isn’t the answer, knowing what you SHOULDN’T do rarely stops anyone from doing something tempting, attractive or naughty!  Our behaviour flows out of our identity and not out of a set of rules, rules are excellent for showing what you have done wrong but not great at stopping you doing it in the first place.  An identity that is affirmed as a beloved son or daughter, a precious unique identity that causes delight and pleasure in the eye of the beholder is worth its weight in diamond-encrusted gold.  Knowing who you are will prevent many bad choices as the bad choices are often about seeking something we feel we lack; if we feel we need acceptance, friendship, ‘love’, beauty etc. we can end up looking for these things in the social vices that promise to provide them.

The W.W.J.D concept is focussing again on what we do, our actions, the external, our performance; have we prayed, have we read our Bibles, have we fasted, have we won our school/town/nation for Jesus?  They’re a guilt-trip in rubber!  Our heavenly Father is far more concerned with who we are, and who we are has been determined by Jesus’ death and resurrection and not by us!  We can rest in the identity He gives us as a free gift; we are co-heirs with Christ of all the blessing and promises of God, filled with living water bubbling up from within, we are the righteousness of God in Christ, welcomed into the wonderful dance the trinity has been enjoying since before the foundation of the world when God already knew us and marvelled at the beauty of his own handiwork.

And so we come back to the little yellow badges with ‘Jesus Loves You’ on them.  Maybe they’re a bit cheesy, maybe they’re a bit old-fashioned but maybe we should bring them back and wear them instead of our wrist-bands, as then we’ll be wearing something that tells each other a truth that affirms our identity over and over again instead of something that asks a question that sin-management programs can’t really answer.

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