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Undone Business

The bowl rested on a small table near the altar. Inside, coiled like little snakes, were white rubber bracelets imprinted with blue letters:

WWJU

The “U” threw me for a loop. It was supposed to end with a “D,” as in “What Would Jesus Do?” The question was the second half of a popular book title written in 1896 by Kansas pastor, Charles M. Sheldon. In His Steps: What Would Jesus Do? has sold more than 50,000,000 copies and spawned a popular movement in the nineties with the WWJD acronym appearing on wristbands, T-shirts and coffee mugs.

I plucked one of the bracelets from the bowl and took it to the pastor. “I give up,” I said. “What does WWJU mean?”

With a sly smile, he replied, “What would Jesus undo?”

Now there’s a question we should ponder during Lent! What would Jesus undo? I have to admit that I’ve used this season as motivation to shed a bad habit, with various amounts of success. Some people will heroically give up chocolate or coffee during this time, but go right back to their caffeine consumption after Lent.

Is this what these 40 days are about? More importantly, is that what the Christian walk is – simply to reform a single behavior or tweak something we don’t like so we can feel better about ourselves?

The center of Christianity is not a personality assessment or self-help program, but a Crucified Savior. The Cross undoes everything we cherish in this world: prestige, power, comfort, accumulation, convenience, pride, personal prejudices, trust in worldly systems. It’s not that Jesus is against pleasure. Many see God as a puritanical bully who doesn’t want anyone to have fun. God is more like a liberator who breaks chains that we didn’t even know held us. Once that happens, we are “undone.” Our ties to things that fed our selfish goals and fragile egos are loosened. We receive new life. We are truly “born again” (John 3:5-8).

Jesus did not come to this earth as a guru.  He came to turn upside-down everything that is fake and fleeting. He came to undo us, so that in Him, we are put back together as God intends.

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