“To this you were called,because Christ suffered for you,leaving you an example,that you should follow in his steps”—1 Peter 2:21(NIV)
An 1896 novel, “In His Steps” by Charles Sheldon, launched a grassroots movement in the 1990s called “What Would Jesus Do?” Many of us remember the popular question that sparked a revolution of sorts, especially among youth. The initials WWJD first appeared on cloth bracelets and later on t-shirts, coffee mugs and other items.
Sheldon’s novel grew out of a series of sermons he delivered to his Topeka, Kansas church. Sheldon’s approach to the Christian life was expressed in the phrase “What would Jesus do?” with our Savior serving as a moral example. In this popular novel, translated into 21 languages, the Rev. Henry Maxwell encounters a homeless man who challenges him to take seriously the imitation of Christ. The homeless man has a difficult time understanding why so many Christians ignore the poor.
Commenting on standing outside the church door and listening to the hymns being sung, the poor man says, “It seems to me there’s an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn’t exist if all the people who sing such songs went and lived them out. I suppose I don’t understand. But what would Jesus do? Is that what you mean by following in His steps? It seems to me sometimes as if the people in the big churches had good clothes and nice houses to live in, and money to spend for luxuries, and could go away on summer vacations and all that, while the people outside the churches, thousands of them, I mean, die in tenements, and walk the streets for jobs, and never have a piano or a picture in the house, and grow up in misery and drunkenness and sin.”
Written more than 100 years ago, the book is still an inspirational classic today. While reading the book recently, I had trouble putting it down as I followed the stories of those who gave up social prominence, wealth and jobs to answer that question, “What would Jesus do?” when faced with important decisions. How does this ultimately affect the characters? They take Christianity more seriously and begin to focus on what they believe is at its core—the life of Christ.
However, before any of us can ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” we must ask ourselves whether or not we know the man called Jesus. Knowing Him begins with reading about His life, His teachings and His claims in the Bible. However, just reading the Bible to gain knowledge, only teaches us about Jesus. If we want to know Him personally, we have to seek Him.
In Revelation 3:20, Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
How would your life be different if you were to commit seriously to walking in His steps?
Carol welcomes your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comment line below.