You may have been raised in a culture of ‘God helps those who help themselves.’ Or one in which it is never really expected today that Jesus heals people or enters our lives in a powerful way to do the things only Jesus did and still does. I thought that way once. Until I saw that Jesus is real and on the ground with power in real life situations. On my recent trip to India doctors verified that four women had been cured of cancer and one man had received a new kidney. Several years before that I met a girl whom Jesus had raised from the dead. There’s a marked difference between a Jesus life and an institutionalised religious life.
Should we live a religious life we might find ourselves praying nonsense as a matter of course. Recently Bob, not his real name, was asked to pray for a couple who were involved in ministry. He startled me by praying, ‘Lord come into their life..’ One might expect that Jesus was already in this couple’s life. Whether Bob used these words as a pious ‘filler’ while waiting for more thought, I do not know. What I do know is that we will always be relevant if we are related to a personal Jesus, expect Him to do the kinds of things God does – like heal the sick, raise the dead and cast our demons – and are filled with His Spirit. Spirit-filled people unconsciously pray what is on the Lord’s heart and what the needy need to be prayed for.
If we are living a religious life much of what we say can be meaningless anyway. We pray in clichés and generalities – maybe in an unconscious bid to ensure that our prayer is so general and non-specific that whatever happens our prayer appears to be ‘answered.’ But praying with authority entails specific prayer that goes well beyond the clichés of ‘bless this, bless that’ or ‘Be with Aunty Mavis in her illness.’ Bless me prayer are the prayers of impotence. ‘Be with’ prayers are redundant because God is already with Aunty Mavis as He is with all of us. All three persons of the God-Head live in the Believer. So ‘Enough already!’
Don’t expect to pray meaningful or powerful prayers if you are living out of institutional religion.
In the new testament we and Father are one. We are graced with this inheritance courtesy of Jesus. You are not absorbed by Father’s personhood but you are one with Father as Jesus was. This is the main fruit of His work. Furthermore, as mentioned above the trinity lives in our being. So you need not ask ‘What would Jesus do.’ Living in the Spirit rather than in the flesh and in union rather than the separation that is commonly taught, you can intuitively do what Jesus is doing through you in every situation.
A bracelet with ‘What Would Jesus Do’ is definitely more ‘Christian/religious’ than Kingdom and more of a cliché based on poor teaching than the reality of our life as sons and daughters of God. It ranks alongside the other cliché, ‘Keeping close to Jesus.’ Both are mistaken since we live in the age of Christ in us where Christ is intertwined in our being by the Spirit who dwells richly in us.
Both uses are unfortunate because they reveal an attempted Christian life in something other than what is ours. I mean a life in churchianity, Christianity, religion, works and the knowledge of good and evil – all of which are substitutes for the Gospel of the Kingdom, our shared life in Christ and the teaching of Paul. As J Baxter Kruger noted with accuracy and wit,
‘It’s not about you inviting Jesus into your life. It’s about Jesus already including you in His.’
Many Christians live in a dualism of us and Him. Hence the need to keep close to Jesus because He is somewhere - else but not your life. Or living in the bewilderment and pressure of daily choices as though you are on your own and Jesus is waiting somewhat apart waiting to be called on to give advice. But He is not He is in you and with you. By the One Spirit He pervades our being. He is part of us. We are not orphans. He is with us and in us. We are joined to God. We and Father are one. This is Christ’s achievement for us. Yet He is with us as a distinct person, not smothered but ourselves in spirit and in truth. As genuine sons and daughters we do what Jesus did because we are the expression of His person.
In Trinitarian Conversations, the authors write,
That WWJD paradigm is: Jesus isn't doing
anything, so I've got to do something for him. You can
get into that. But notice everything's thrown back on
you. Because Jesus made it possible, all you have to
do is make it actual and real. That is a huge burden,
and it leads to burnout in ministry …
Your fruitfulness and ability to give life comes from the fact that you actually alive because Christ is your life. You are hidden in Him and formed in Him, yet the manifestation of yourself in your everyday world exposes the reality of His presence. Certifies your unique personhood as a son and representative of our Father and releases the kind of life that is not religions but is life without limit. When Jesus is our life by the Spirit all we do is spirit and life. This is the life of heaven coursing through us as rivers of living water.