I’m sure that we’ve all read at least one book where upon finishing, we walked away gratified and convinced that what we just read was absolutely the truth and quite worthy of publication. We totally agreed with its theme and all the points that the author made. We may have even recommended the book to others, and yet. . .there was no practical application in our own lives due to the teaching contained in that book.

Conversely, how many of us have actually read a book that had a huge impact on us and ultimately mitigated a change in our life, all because of the narrative presented in that volume? Furthermore, how many of us have read a book that made us question the status quo of Christianity, discipleship, and the paths of many believers in general — maybe even provoked us to question our own service to God? And made us think, “Am I pleasing God [1]?”

I have just read such a book!

In chapter one of “In His Steps,” the author, Charles M. Sheldon, started his story with an anecdote of human suffering and with the question, “What does it mean to follow Jesus?” By the second chapter, he’d dedicated the rest of his project to one simple question, “What would Jesus do?” Charles then cited 1 Peter 2:21 as his scriptural basis.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps. . .[1 Peter 2:21 KJV]

Charles tells his story through the pastor Henry M. Maxwell of First Church in the city of Raymond. He also told many other stories of individual characters who chose to take the pastor’s challenge to the church, by asking the question before every attitude and action, “What would Jesus do if He were me?” One-hundred congregants took the challenge, many of which were very successful and prominent businessmen and owners. Walking in Jesus example was tough, challenging, and many times, if not always, a road of suffering. It was up to each individual, with no outside interference or guidance, that when they were tempted, challenged, or confronted, to first ask the question, “What would Jesus do?

The hard part was doing what they thought Christ would do if He were them. Many characters acquiesced to Christ and as a result, some lost their position, wealth, and status as they followed through with the challenge. However, in the end, because they followed Christ and did what was righteous in the sight of the Lord, they were blessed exceedingly. The blessings far outweighed the loss. (God has a way of doing that.)

Toward the end of the book, at another church, a pastor and a bishop resigned their position, incomes, and congregations to live in the squalor with the dregs of society to help the downtrodden and just plain rejecters of Christ. They both felt compelled that this is what Jesus would do. As a side-bar, they wanted to somehow change the opinions and viewpoints of many the unbeliever when they declared that Christians were no different than they were. That we, as Christians, talk a good game but don’t back up the talk with action. This is a bad witness for Christ and not a good practice that would induce someone to follow Christ themselves. They think of us as hypocrites.

I believe the take-away to this book is leaving us with many personal unanswered questions that only we as an individual believer can answer for ourselves. For example, do we follow Christ’s example or not [2]? Do we want to follow ‘in His steps [3]?’ Do we want to imitate [4] and emulate Christ? When we asked Christ into our hearts and promised to follow Him, did we take up our Cross [5]? And. . .are we carrying our own cross, or because of indifference, disobedience, indignation, or inaction, have we forced someone else to carry our cross like the Romans forced Simon to carry Christ’s cross [6]?

Through our inaction, did we intentionally leave our cross for someone else to carry because we couldn’t be bothered or were in a rush or late for “T” time? Did we forsake compassion and mercy and by-pass that troubled person or someone in need of salvation or minimum, help, thereby passing the buck? If we do not carry our own cross, we cannot be a disciple of Christ [7]. Have we yet to follow Christ to the point of suffering [8]? Do we follow Christ out of our plenty and abundance, or do we follow Christ to the detriment of our own needs and wants [9]? Do we give of our time, effort, and finances until it hurts or just out of something that we won’t miss?

Christ gave everything He had for us, even His life [10]. Now we must give our life for Christ through salvation [11] and to follow in His steps [12]. We must die to self daily [13] and be not conformed to the world but we must renew our minds to the perfect will of God [14].

In our own individual life, what have we encountered that compelled us to ask the question, “What would Jesus do?” And then did it. Each life is different with different stories. As you carry your cross and meander through this world, living out your own life through your gifting, desires, and vocation, what problem, obstacle, or circumstance in your life demanded the question,

What would Jesus do?

Did you do it?

[1] Hebrews 11:6
[2] 1 Peter 2:21
[3] Philippians 3:12
[4] Ephesians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 11:1
[5] Matthew 16:24
[6] Matthew 27:32
[7] Luke 14:27
[8] 2 Corinthians 12:10
[9] Mark 12:44
[10] Romans 5:8
[11] John 14:6; Philippians 1:21
[12] Gills commentary says,Christ is an example to his people in the exercise of grace, as of faith, love, zeal, meekness, and humility; and in the discharge of duty, in his regard to the commands of the moral law, and positive institutions of religion; in his constancy in prayer; in frequent attendance on public worship; in his submission to the ordinance of baptism, and his celebration of the supper; and likewise in his sufferings; and in his meekness, patience, courage, and resignation to the will of God, which is what is here intended, and in which his people are to fellow and imitate him.
[13] Galatians 2:20, 5:24; Colossians 3:3-7; Romans6:4; Ephesians 4:22-24; 1 Corinthians 15:31; and more.
[14] Romans 12:2

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