Jesus and the Acronyms

September 14, 2018 by Gregg DeMey

Since the beginning of the Christian era, followers of Jesus have used acronyms* as a way of sharing and summarizing central tenets of our faith. The first of these acronyms was IXTHUS, the ancient Greek word for “fish.” Simply writing the five Greek letters (it takes six in English) stood for these words: Jesus (I) Christ (X) God’s (TH) Son (U), the Savior (S). That’s a lot of theology and significance packed into one little word!

In more recent history, the acronym WWJD has become a way for followers of Jesus in North America to stretch their spiritual imaginations and wonder “What would Jesus do?” in various modern situations. Since the late 1990s, WWJD has appeared on bracelets, t-shirts, license plate holders etc… I’ve even seen it shaved into the side of people’s heads!

While I am 100% for encouraging the spiritual imagination, WWJD’s power is quite limited. I don’t find it helpful to wonder about “What kind of car would Jesus buy?” because our Lord had only modest earthly possessions at best. I don’t find it helpful to ask, “Which candidate would Jesus vote for?” as Jesus refused to endorse any particular politician or power structure, proclaiming instead the radical alternative of the Kingdom of God.

This fall at Elmhurst CRC we are pursuing a different acronym: WDJD, or, What DID Jesus do?

This acronym has more promise! We can listen, learn and ponder what Jesus of Nazareth actually did when he walked in our midst. We can notice what it looks like for the Son of God to be one of us.

And we can take baby steps in modeling our actions, our thoughts and our words on those of our Lord. WDJD provides the foundation for us to copy Jesus. In sharing the “The Lost Arts” through Sunday morning worship services and through the vehicle of many of our small groups, the goal is to live like Jesus in realistic, doable ways.

The possibility of patterning my behavior and words after Jesus’ leads me to a final acronym to share, WNL. This is my favorite of all: WNL or “What Next, Lord?” Following Jesus can’t happen all at once, but one step at a time. As we do a deep dive into noticing how Jesus conducted his life in the Gospels, this little prayer will serve us well: WNL? Before we do everything, we simply need to do the first, next thing that God has for us. WNL?

Grace and Peace,

Pastor Gregg

*An acronym is an abbreviation formed from the initial letters of other words to form a new or familiar word, for example: NASA which is derived from the “National Aeronautics and Space Administration.”

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