The publication of What Would Jesus Eat? The Ultimate Program for Eating Well, Feeling Great, and Living Longer (Nelson, 2002) signals, I hope, the end of our latest enchantment with imitating Christ. The recent fad began 13 years ago with Holland, Michigan, teenagers wearing WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) bracelets to remind themselves to seek Christ's direction before every decision. All well and good up to a point, and with this book, that point has been exceeded.
Actually, author Don Colbert's health advice is sound. He says we should eat whole grains, breads, and fresh foods low in fat and sodium. He also touts sensible exercise: "As an active walker, Jesus was certainly engaged in aerobic exercise."
Admittedly, the biblical connections are thin, but I do not fault Dr. Colbert for trying to help us, in his words, to have "more energy, better health, and a greater sense of well-being." But I do fault whoever came up with the misleading title, which suggests that if we imitate Christ in this way, we'll start "feeling great and living longer."
For better or worse, in the Beatitudes and a host of other passages, Jesus only guarantees that his disciples will feel lousy ("suffer") and likely die young. But this uncomfortable biblical fact didn't interrupt some creative titling/marketing meeting.
Then again, unseemly things happen when the culture gets a hankering to be like Jesus. An early episode was inspired by Antony of Egypt (251-356), who one day abandoned his family and wealth, and walked into the desert to battle the Tempter in the wilderness, as did his Lord. The idea caught on, and pretty soon the desert was littered with solitaries. The ensuing spiritual disciplines formed many of these into stellar disciples (Cassian, ...