A version of this op-ed appears in print on February 10, 2015, on page A21 of the New York edition with the headline: What Would Jesus Do About Measles?
The question "What would Jesus do?" is from an 1896 novel by Charles Sheldon entitled In His Steps." The novel came from a series of sermons by Sheldon in Topeka in my home state of Kansas. The subtitle of the book was "What would Jesus do?" and reflected Sheldon's commitment to a type of socialism, that is, if Jesus were here in this situation or that one, he would not only have died for our sins, but would have helped this homeless person or the poor or... Sheldon's approach to the Christian life was expressed in this phrase "What Would Jesus Do", with Jesus being not only our Saviour, as Christianity clearly taught, but also a moral example for his followers. The phrase became a 1990s slogan with commensurate wristbands and book covers WWJD.
The novel has been translated into dozens of languages. The main character, Rev Henry Maxwell, encounters a homeless man who challenges him to take seriously the imitation of Christ. (Consider a Kempis) The homeless man has difficulty understanding why, in his view, so many Christians ignore the poor.
This leads to many of the novel's characters asking, "What would Jesus do?" when faced with decisions of some importance. This has the effect of making the characters embrace Christianity more seriously and to focus on what they see as its core — the life of Jesus himself.
The entire novel is here in PDF form It is public domain by now.
So would Jesus make kids gets vaccinated? Would he help us discuss this in person or online? Would Jesus have used a computer at all?
Beyond the speculation which gives us pause, what would He have you do today? In each circumstance, with each person you really meet? Consider this... it's not a bad idea after all. WWJD?