The Curse of WWJD

Jonas Ellison
4 min readJul 13, 2019

Those people wearing the WWJD bracelets always rubbed me wrong, even when I was a kid...

I grew up in a conservative and rural part of California. Christianity took on the fabric of the culture, as it always seems to do. This means that it was mostly about gun ownership, anglo culture, sexual orientation, and moral purity.

What would Jesus do? By the time I reached high school, I saw it as a passive-aggressive ego play. A holier-than-thou stance designed to get me to submit to the impeccable morality and staunch one-sided politics of the wearer of said bracelet.

(Which was confusing when I later read that Jesus favored hanging out with sex workers and governmental extortionists and was labeled as a drunkard, etc. But anyhow…)

Later in life, when I entered into a more progressive spiritual-but-not-religious worldview, it seemed less legalistic at first glance. Though I didn’t consider myself a tried and true ‘Christian,’ I did consider myself a ‘Jesus follower’. The emphasis on Jesus, as the authors and teachers I followed said, was to try to live as Jesus lived. Soon, I noticed that even this worldview carried its own set of further left-leaning and ‘mindful’ legalities. It was thought and life control on an individualistic level, and it proved impossible.

What I’m seeing now is that Jesus always had a sharp eye, not on the physical action or word, but on the thing beneath it. The intentionality of it.

And so, if I just live according to a list of do’s and don’ts — whether they’re more progressive or conservative in nature — it’s still based on ME following whatever shoulds I’m faced with. It comes down to ME doing the right thing.

Don’t get me wrong, what we do is important. I’m of the belief that behavior is a big deal. But I’m seeing now that behaviors and actions lie at the fruit level, not the root level.

And so, what would Jesus do? That doesn’t seem to be the right question…

Jesus’s mission, it seems, was to end the what-woulds once and for all.

In Jesus’s culture, the emphasis of religion had long been on right action and correct living according to law. In himself, Jesus put an end to the God of correct and incorrect living and said we are all forgiven. He…



Jonas Ellison

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