It's not about asking "WWJD?"
I don’t think the gospel is primarily about finding a way to get people into heaven, though that is part of it. I believe it is primarily about believers learning to live everyday lives that marry the indwelling force of God with the yielded spirit of a human being.
So many people in the church today are trying to find ways to minimize sin, because they don’t know how to fit sin into their theology. That's because when you reduce the gospel to just getting people into heaven, you end up with an embarrassing problem. You end up with millions of immature Christians who are still twisted with dark, earthly behaviors. How do you explain that to the world?
The church has attempted to deal with this embarrassment in two big ways:
1. The first response has been to try to work up a bunch of regulations to help people doggie paddle out a patched together holiness, a plan for exhausting ourselves, a plan for working to stay afloat on an ocean of sin. Here you have the Gothardites and all that crowd, teachers who hand out checklists for a spirituality rooted in human self-control. That method tends to lead to either depression or perversion. Sometimes both.
2. The second response has been to try to excuse/dispose of the idea of sin almost entirely and just focus on God’s love. Here you have the more progressive crowd that gushes about grace in such a way that hard truth isn’t spoken. It’s all softness with no skeleton. There is a lot of talk here about beauty, about winsomeness, about friendship, and community, and about God as a lover. And all of those lovely things can be true.
But if you look at the deep workings of some of these teachings, you are likely to find that the focus isn't truly on God's love so much as it is on humans trying to be culturally attractive to other humans. Why? Because there is an underlying belief that if we do Christianity right, and if we don't make people too uncomfortable by talking about the fallen state of humanity, then nonbelievers will snuggle up to us, and eventually they will be okay with God, too.
I think both extremes are in error because both extremes trust human power.
I've been in both camps at times. I still fluctuate between them when I get foggy spiritually.
You know, it's scary when we try to live like Jesus and fail. We get overcome with discouragement, doubt, despair, and shame, and mostly we get nervous and try to do something about it. We want to fix it, so we start messing with truth at that critical moment when we are actually standing right on the very brink of what failure is supposed to teach us in the first place.
But this is a bad place to let nervousness lead, because failure teaches us the same thing the New Testament teaches... that we are vessels, made to be filled by a living God in an active way.
The gospel has never been about asking “What would Jesus do?” It’s always been about what He does do.
When sin does show up, or temptation, or epic failure, it’s an opportunity. It shows us a root. It points to a place in our heart where we are acting like independent creatures who don't need Him. Sin shows us where we need to not just straighten up and “live better,” but yield to a greater life force who is able to do what we cannot.
This is what we lose when we try to let rules replace Jesus. This is what we lose when we try to shoo away sin and renovate morality to make people more comfortable as they are.
We lose the very lessons meant to take us to the next level of communion.