In His Steps

Looking for an inspirational read to start the new year?

In His Steps is a popular classic in the public domain.  The story is simple but fascinating: The death of a homeless man move a preacher to ask himself and his congregation the question, “What would Jesus do?”  The answer takes very different forms in each individual’s life and unique circumstances.  The bottom line, however, is power, love, and discipline (2 Timothy 1:7).

Besides being a great reminder that we can live like Christ no matter regardless of our personality, talents, income, social status, etc., etc., there is a story behind the book of interest to Kansas history buffs.  In 1896, Charles Monroe Sheldon decided to preach a series of sermons on the concept of “What would Jesus do?” specifically geared toward the young people of the Central Congregational Church in Topeka.  He wrote the sermons in story form, each sermon showing how different people might apply the question to their lives in a slightly different manner.  As he told the stories, Sheldon also had them published in serial form in a religious paper called the Chicago Advance.  An error in filing the copyright put the text into the public domain, and it soon appeared as a best-selling paperback.

While readers should carefully examine Sheldon’s conclusions in the light of Scripture, the main point is valid—Christians can and should live like Christ.  Yes, it will require self-sacrifice as we serve others.  No, it will not always be popular.  But, yes, we will reap great joy from putting our talents, whatever they may be, to work for good and not evil.

Helpful Resources

Charles Monroe Sheldon
A photo of Sheldon taken about the time that he would have written In His Steps.

Central Congregational Church and Charles M. Sheldon Memorial Community House in Topeka Kansas
The church at which Sheldon preached, along with the adjoining community house built in his honor in 1926.