• Jon Forrest

in his steps

The Upward Look, by Jon Forrest


In His Steps

I highly recommend the book by Charles Sheldon titled IN HIS STEPS. While it was first published in 1869 it has been an inspiration to bring revival to Christian lives, churches and even communities over the years. Over 30 million copies of this book have been sold in the US and UK. The story is about a very professional minister named Henry Maxwell who is struggling with the spirituality of a church that has little or no passion for the Lord. He is proud of his standing in the community, but has grown comfortable in his job and has little, or no, passion for making a real difference in the lives of his people or the community. He has settled in nicely to his role as a spiritual advisor to the community. As the novel opens Pastor Maxwell is struggling to get his sermon ready because he has been interrupted frequently by the members of his church asking his help with things.

When Sunday comes, Maxwell preaches a sermon that focusses on the idea that people should follow in the steps of Jesus Christ. Maxwell emphasizes that Jesus was not afraid of personal sacrifice; that those who witnessed how he led his life were persuaded to make positive changes in their own. He concludes that if people want to make a change in the world, they have to exhibit the qualities of Christ.

But Maxwell’s exhortation to live like Christ is difficult, even for him. When a homeless man, Jack Manning, wanders around the town of Raymond asking for work, no one, including Maxwell or his wife, helps him or take the time to hear his story.

During Maxwell’s sermon that Sunday at the First Church of Raymond, Jack confronts the congregation’s lack of compassion for the homeless or himself by standing up in the middle of Maxwell’s speech and telling them all that they are not living like Christ. He faints, and Maxwell announces that the service is over. A few days later, Jack dies.

Maxwell is extremely moved by Jack’s death and starts questioning whether he acted appropriately toward Jack. That Sunday, he challenges his congregation to, for an entire year, never act before asking, “What would Jesus do?”

For the rest of the novel, Sheldon describes characters around town as they try to live up to the challenge. While trying to live up to Jesus’ teachings, the lives of the people in this town are radically transformed.

The foundation of the book and the “What would Jesus do?” concept is found in

1 Peter 2:21, “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

A few years the Christian Book and Gift industry pulled from the book In his Steps the phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” the Acrostic WWJD and sold it on bumper stickers, Bibles, signs, license plates, key chains and every kind of trinket imaginable. Perhaps the idea made a powerful impact on some lives, but to many, it was just a fad.

But just imagine what our lives would be like, what our churches would be like, what our world would be like if every person who calls Jesus Christ Lord, would determine to never do or say anything without asking that powerful, life changing question first. “What Would Jesus Do?” To know what Jesus would do, all we have to do is read the Bible and see “What Jesus Did Do.” Applying his actions to our hearts and lives will turn our lives and our world around in a powerful way. Let’s surrender our lives to that goal today.

This Sunday morning, we will continue our series of messages from 1 Peter titled Living Hope with a message Spiritual Distancing Up Close based on 1 Peter 2:11-25. Join us to examine the Christ exemplified life.

Walking with you in His steps,

Jon

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