Remember Something

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Many years ago, I was involved in a conversation about Jesus junk. Like most here in The Rabbit Room, I’m as offended by Jesus junk as I am moved by its counterpart, art that magnifies the glory of God with beauty and truth. The question we posed was, “Of all the Jesus junk on the market, which piece has the most redeeming value?” I chose the WWJD bracelet. Hey, if I had to pick one thing, the WWJD bracelet seemed as good as any.

At the time of the discussion, WWJD (What Would Jesus Do?) bracelets were a hot item at Christian bookstores. In fact, they were so popular that a shopper could probably find one at Sears or Walmart. For all I know, they may still be out there. They were mainstream, baby.

The WWJD bracelet shares some characteristics of great art (why are you rolling your eyes). It says something, but the message doesn’t assault us like a 2X4 over the head. At least not in the explicit way that lyrics on Christian formatted radio might. Further, the WWJD bracelet has layered meaning. Besides, “What Would Jesus Do,” some believers think of the initialism as, “Walk With Jesus Daily.” Still others think it means, “What Would Jesus Drive?”

Less known is that this phrase found popular acceptance with Christians over 100 years ago in the 1890s. The use of the phrase became popular then as the result of a book written by Charles Sheldon in 1896 called, “In His Steps.” Had my great grandfather been on his toes, he could have made a mint marketing WWJD bracelets to general stores.

Similar to other great art, we may be inspired to act or refrain from acting based on the inspiration found in the piece. We may never know how many F-bombs were averted as the result of the WWJD bracelet, but I’m willing to bet that it’s a lot. More than 39 for sure.

Finally, as a conversation piece for nonbelievers, they were second to none.

Though I grew up in church and became a believer after a 3rd grade youth group teacher used colored construction paper to illustrate the gospel (black for our sinful hearts, red for Jesus’ blood, white as snow for a redeemed heart, thanks Mrs. Raether)–the gospel didn’t become especially alive and vivid for me until a church camp experience when I was in junior high.

After that, I started using a saying with my believer friends that was in retrospect half-cheesy, but also–just like the WWJD bracelets–was kind of an accountability tool for us. When we returned home from camp, any time we wanted to call each other on the truth or to encourage each other to “do the right thing,” we started using the phrase Remember Something. It was like a spiritual secret code, similar to the WWJD bracelet. By invoking the Remember Something phrase, we meant to remind each other that we were called to walk a different path than what we walked before. Remember Something was a reminder of camp, and camp was a reminder of Christ.

Initially it was part of our inner circle but over time the phrase, Remember Something caught on with the rest of our school friends, believers and non-believers alike. Though our non-believing friends had no earthly idea of the origination of the phrase, they began using it–unknowingly reflecting a truth or reality to which they didn’t necessarily subscribe. To us, it was both hilarious and moving.

It would be cool to be able to say the phrase led to specific discussion opportunities with nonbelievers, but I don’t remember anything like that happening. We did have plenty of intimate discussions with our nonbelieving friends, but those conversations came later, mostly in high school. By the time we were sophomores, the Remember Something phrase largely dropped from our vocabulary. Junior high cool and high school cool are two different things, you understand.

Every two years, I have a long standing pact to get together for a mini-vacation with two of these boyhood buddies, Bill and Ron, both of whom attended the same high school and private Christian college with me. When we get together, we often slip back into our early days vernacular–including the Remember Something phrase. It’s mostly just to be silly, but deep down I think we understand and appreciate the bond that such a small thing helped create among us, as well as the curiosity and involvement it created among non-believing friends.

Thinking back (and maybe to our shame), we didn’t always use Remember Something in the most honorable of ways. Imagine, junior high guys behaving dishonorably? For example, I don’t know that teaching somebody a lesson about sharing their Peanut M&Ms was the best use of our Sunday schoolboy idiom. “Give me some of your M&M’s.” “No.” “Please.” “No.” “Remember Something.” “Oh, all right, here ya go.”

Jesus would no doubt have shared His Peanut M&Ms–of course–but as you might imagine, sometimes this phrase became a tool something like a holy sledge hammer for lending legitimacy to the pilfering of somebody’s candy. Or worse. It cloaked agenda (ouch), manipulation (ouch, ouch) and selfishness (triple ouch) within the confines of piosity.

What started as a pure expression and affirmation of God’s abiding love sometimes morphed into something not as pretty. The basis for Remember Something was something quite beautiful in an innocent sort of way. But when it became fodder for an agenda–even an honorable, spiritually correct agenda–if felt manipulative, heavy-handed, and controlling.

Have you ever experienced art like that? Remember Something.


9 Comments

  1. Julie

    Great thoughts! I just wanted to say that my acting company is performing In His Steps in June and whoever lives nera the Greensboro area of North Caroline should come see it! It is a great story.

  2. Greg Sailors

    My friend!

    Nice use of “Pilfering!” I really think it is an underused verb!

    We have a guy that began coming to some of our ministry events about a year ago. He grew up in a very strong Christian environment but even so, had a lot set against him. His parents and church were solid but all of hell seemed set against him getting to know our buddy Jesus.. You know the bit.. bad decisions…addictions…pride etc…

    He came to us very thirsty for something and he had an inkling of what it was! He began to relay a story to us about his father saying that God had written the truth on his heart! He told us that he wanted to find out about that truth… that all of his striving and vain attempts for life had failed…his marriage was failing and his mind was full of ill winds… and that he wanted to REMEMBER SOMETHING!

    He wanted to remember the truth that God had written on his heart in the beginning…

    This man is an amazing man…God has freed him of so many things with his acceptance of Jesus Christ and his walking with Him as his intimate allies.. there has been some causalities.. his marriage and one of his children… but he is thirsty for truth and has an amazing radar for it…

    We have, since then… in the vain of Curt’s beautiful story, began to remind each other to “Remember the Truth” not bowing to the traps of the enemy or the accusations that permeate our days… but rather speak the truth that has always been written on our hearts!

  3. Profile photo of Curt McLey

    Curt McLey

    @curtmcley

    Julie – Let us know when and where In His Steps is running. Readers in your area may want to come.

    Greg – Thanks for the story. It sounds as if God is using you and your brothers as a mighty tool for His glory. Remember the Truth; I like it. It’s very cool how a simple reminder from a caring brother or sister can nudge us toward the fertile soil. It keeps the evil one at bay, so he us unable to pilfer our joy. Pilfer, pilfer, pilfer. 🙂

  4. Julie

    The In His Steps play will be held at the Paramount theater of downtown Burlington on June 6 and 7. If anyone does live in this area and is interested in coming, let me know (jfaith210@yahoo.com).

  5. whipple

    Ooh, I do remember a friend and I having a backlash conversation against the idea of Christian T-shirts (not to open a can of worms, just a can of confession).

    We had the jaded attitude of late high school/early college students (sometimes, it’s unfortunately ‘cool’ to be jaded) and talked about printing T-shirts that, instead of the trite messages and brand-logo ripoffs we saw everywhere, touted words like “Hypocrite” written in white on a black background. Or “Liar”. Or “Adulterer”.

    The thing is, I think they would’ve been leaving behind the same contrails that all the other T-shirts did, only with the added baggage of a little more shock value. I’m kind of glad that we never did it.

  6. Julie

    Jennifer,
    You shoudl definitely come! I think its going to be really good The set and the costumes are coming along amazingly!

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