What Would Rembrandt Do?

Imagine that you are given a set of watercolors and canvas from Kmart and asked to paint a picture. Would your first thoughts really be, “Now let’s see … What Would Rembrandt Do?”

And why not? Well for me, my first reason is that I’m not Rembrandt. I can’t do what he could do. I don’t even know how he would think about a painting, let alone paint! I don’t have his talent, his experience, or his vision, style, or much of anything he possessed that made him who he was.

So when it comes to an issue in the Christian life, why would anyone stop and ask “What Would Jesus Do?” We can’t do what Jesus did, because we are not even close to the quality of his character, his vision, his connection to the Father, or any of the other aspects of who he was that allowed him to do what he did. To ask the question presupposes that we can do what he did if we just choose to. As if obedience was nothing more than volitional compliance, or that doing what Jesus did does not first require an incredible transformation of heart and character.

Being a “follower” of Jesus is not at all the same thing as trying to act like him. It is about becoming an apprentice to the Master and to be taught and trained by him. Our hope, of course, is to become more and more like him. And he is able to do a work in us to that end, as we learn how to participate with him. But for us to do what Jesus did is limited entirely by how much we have been changed to be like him.

I can just see Rembrandt trying very hard not to smile or laugh as I splash my mess on the canvas. Perhaps in time … with a lot of help to grow and change … I might someday paint something we can recognize as art.

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