In the Lectionary

May 21, Sixth Sunday of Easter

John 14:15–21

Years ago when I worked as a youth minister, the popular Christian kitsch was items bearing the slogan, “What Would Jesus Do?” WWJD was emblazoned on jewelry, clothes, hats, notebooks, and bumper stickers. It was supposed to be a daily reminder to be Christlike, to engage daily situations by asking how Jesus would handle it. The problem with this mode of “Just add water” discernment is that we are not Jesus. If we see a hungry crowd, we can feed one or two people. But we can’t miraculously make a bakery out of one baguette or a seafood restaurant out of a piece of salmon. According to the Bible, that’s probably what Jesus would do.

I think a more fitting alternative might be IYLM, “If You Love Me.” It’s the phrase that begins this week’s text from John’s Gospel. It’s echoed several chapters later in the heart-searing question the resurrected Christ poses to Simon Peter: “Do you love me?” (If so, “feed my sheep.”) IYLM might not roll off the tongue the same way WWJD does. But it could make us stop and ask what’s really at stake with our next move in whatever situation we find ourselves.

I try to imagine myself in a situation made possible by current events. What if I am protesting at an anti-immigration rally and am suddenly faced with opponents spewing hateful remarks at me? What could be my next move if, somewhere in the depths of my being, I hear Jesus say, “If you love me . . .”?