Is it . . . Satan?

In other Christian sects people like to ask “What Would Jesus Do?” as a caution to try to be perfectly Christlike in our behavior.  In Primary we have a song “If the Savior Stood Beside Me” that has the same intention:

If the Savior stood beside me, would I do the things I do?
Would I think of His commandments, and try harder to be true?
Would I follow His example? Would I live more righteously
if I could see the Savior standing nigh, watching over me?

If the Savior stood beside me, would I say the things I say?
Would my words be true and kind if He was never far away?
Would I try to share the gospel? Would I speak more rev’rently
if I could see the Savior standing nigh, watching over me?

He is always near me,  though I do not see Him there,
And because He loves me dearly, I am in His watchful care.
So I’ll be the kind of person that I know I’d like to be
if I could see the Savior standing nigh, watching over me.

“Stop me if you’ve heard this one kids. A publican walks into a bar with a duck under one arm . . .”

The song is not terribly judgmental and guilt-inducing, and yet, the way I’ve heard most of my fellow members use this phrase, it usually is.  For just a couple quick examples:

  • A bishop asked “How would Jesus dress?” when the boys had the sleeves of their white shirts rolled up to pass the sacrament.  I’m going to guess he would dress in a home spun robe.  The question just didn’t make a lot of sense in a modern cultural context.
  • In a BYU class, the syllabus said we had an “in class homework assignment.”  As a result, class members were using their notes to complete it.  The professor chastised class members for cheating, and rather than take responsibility for what was a simple miscommunication (on his part, natch), he told the class members to do “what the true gospel of Jesus Christ teaches.”  Uhm . . . not chastise people for your own stupid mistakes?

Do people really know what Jesus would be like?

  • The church lady?  In most of the cases where people use this phrase, they seem to be mistaking Jesus for the judgmental persnickety Church Lady played so well by Dana Carvey.
  • An authoritative teacher?  It’s great to look up to a teacher or a leader, but that doesn’t mean we are perfect in following his teachings either.  He was patient with those he taught.  He didn’t expect perfection.  Even Peter denied him thrice, and while he was disappointed, he still loved him.
  • A pal?  In the book The Gospel According to Biff, Childhood Pal of Christ, the story of the gospels is told from the perspective of an actual contemporary of Jesus who is more or less like most of our regular buddies would behave.  It’s kind of like asking “What Would Jesus Do?” then plopping him down in the middle of one of the Hangover movies.
  • A hero?  He’s a hero in that he fulfilled the atonement, although even in that act, he very humanly was reluctant.  So being like Jesus should mean it’s okay to have to work up our courage.
  • An example?  As an example, Jesus sometimes lost his temper.  He was also frequently hanging out with sinners, harlots, and *gasp* tax collectors.  He was a revolutionary.  Yet nobody is asking “What Would Che Guevara Do?”
Is it just me or does this look like Jesus twisted his ankle?

A few years ago, I answered a kokology quiz about a walk through the woods.  In the walk, I had to say who I was walking with, and in my quiz it was Jesus.  The answer was a little surprising (my husband said he was walking with me) because the person I was walking with (according to the quiz) is the person who is most important in my life.  The way I imagine Jesus is as a very relatable person, someone who would like me for who I am while also wanting me to be my best self.  The version of Jesus I hear about from other people simply isn’t the same one I imagine.  Jesus would not care about modesty (except he might be skeptical of lavish spending).  He wouldn’t care what others thought of him (he has a distaste for hypocrisy).  And he wouldn’t use shame to motivate people (it’s beneath him).

So what about your mental version of Jesus?  Is he the same or different from the one others seem to envision?  Is this question useful or shaming?  Should we just ignore it when people ask this question?  What would Jesus do? 😉