Do you have any books on the shelf that you have been meaning to get to, but keep forgetting about? I do, and this book, In His Steps by Charles M. Sheldon, is one of them. A few weeks ago, I finally pulled it off the shelf to give a go.
It begins with an ordinary day in the life of Pastor Henry Maxwell. We see him preparing a sermon when he is interrupted by a knock on the door. It’s a tramp, asking for a job. Mr. Maxwell says he knows of nothing and sends him on his way. He doesn’t even offer him a bit of food or some water!
The next day, Sunday, the man shows up at the church and points out the hypocrisy of the well-dressed, financially secure and stable church members. They dress up, but they don’t help. They talk the talk, but they do not follow through with action. The man collapses there in the church from malnutrition, and well, I’ll let you read the rest if you haven’t done so already. Needless to say, this causes quite a stir at the First Church of Raymond. Pastor Maxwell is moved by the condemnation of this vagrant. What follows is the challenge to Reverend Maxwell and later, the members of the church, to ask themselves the question, ”What would Jesus do?” before making any decision.
It’s not what I would call a gripping story, but it was well written. Mr. Sheldon wrote this book one chapter a week and gave it as his Sunday evening sermon way back in 1896 (Just think, Cleveland was President!), and soon caught the attention of other publishers and was reprinted around the world. Because only part of the manuscript was sent to the copyright office in Washington, D.C., the copyright was never issued. In His Steps was public domain, therefore, Mr. Sheldon never received any royalties.
The lives of the members of First Church were changed forever by pledging not to make a choice without asking the question, “What would Jesus do?” and then prayerfully seeking the answer. While this book successfully explores this idea, it must be noted that this is pure fiction.
A few thoughts:
I believe that true Christians are already striving to do what Jesus would do. We do that because we have the Holy Spirit driving us, chastening us, and moving us as we go through life. Can we ignore those impulses? Of course. But when we do, it is sin, and the Holy Spirit chides us for it. We do not need to wear a bracelet with “WWJD” on it to remind us. (You may recall that was a popular fad a few years ago due to this book.)
It was an entertaining story. Due to my “reading ADD”, I finished two other books while reading this one, and I also began reading two others. So, it wasn’t extremely exciting or I couldn’t have put it down.
I didn’t find any solid theology in this book, but as far as Christian fiction goes, it was excellent.
If you haven’t read it, I think you will enjoy it.
Until next time,