AMONG THE BOOKS I READ not long after college and seminary was the classic Christian novel by Charles Sheldon (1857–1946)—entitled In His Steps. I remember being deeply challenged by its message.

Sheldon’s 1896 book grew out of a series of sermons he preached in his Congregationalist church in Topeka, Kansas.

In his novel, Sheldon begins with a pastor such as himself—Henry Maxwell—preparing his weekly sermon, to be based on 1 Peter 2:21: “For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps.”

Maxwell’s sermon preparation is interrupted when his doorbell rings, and he finds standing on his porch a homeless man—who has lost his job, his wife, and is separated from his daughter—wondering if the pastor knows where he can get a job. The preacher tells the homeless man that he’s busy—and turns him away.

Soon, however, the homeless man shows up at Maxwell’s church and asks to say a few words at the end of the service. He asks the pastor and congregation what they mean when they sing “Jesus, I my cross have taken, all to leave and follow Thee.” Why, the man wonders, do so many Christians just ignore the poor? What, he wonders, would Jesus do?

Shortly after, the man dies in Maxwell’s home. The pastor is so deeply moved by the man’s simple, honest questions that at the very next worship service, Maxwell invites members of his church to volunteer to take a pledge for a year. They are to ask themselves, in every situation of life, “What would Jesus do?” And then they are to carry through on their conclusions, regardless of the cost to themselves.

In the late 1980s, some youth pastors in Michigan began putting the “WWJD” (“What Would Jesus Do?”) inscription on buttons and bracelets. Young people began wearing these—many of them, more as a fashion statement than an expression of personal conviction. The WWJD “movement” mushroomed in the 1990s and continues even today, with Internet sites offering WWJD mugs, rings, bumper stickers, bookmarks, key rings, and other “holy hardware” items.

One thing I doubt Jesus would do is commercialize conviction. The evidence of Christ’s entire life is that He valued actions far more than words. Words (and that can include visible “statements” we wear as well as promises we make), are too often cheap. Actions, on the other hand, require sacrifice and commitment.

What would Jesus do?

Is this a worthwhile question? I think it can most certainly be—but only if we do three things as we ask it:

  1. We pursue the answer in the Word—especially focusing on what Jesus actually did—letting what God says overrule what we think. Yes, God has given us great minds, but when it comes to what we truly should do in a given circumstance, our selfish minds—if operating independently of what God says in the Word—can so easily default to a self-serving answer.
  2. Once we discover what Jesus did, we’ll need His Spirit to help us understand what Jesus might do were He here today and facing an issue such as we’re facing. What Jesus did then will certainly provide the guiding principle for what He would do now—and that in turn will help clarify what we too should do.
  3. We apply what we are convicted Jesus would do, to ourselves, rather than prescribing or trying to impose it on others.

One thing is certain: If we truly did stop often—when faced with a decision or challenging situation—to ask “What would Jesus do?” I suspect that the consequences of carrying out the answer in our lives would be radical and profound.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Appreciated Ken:

    I found out you already linked my blog “last-hours” in your blog roll. Thank you so much for doing so.
    I wonder if is in your interest to start with a spanish sda blogroll also, or at least add them into the list.

    If you are thinking in doing so I’m glad to tell you that I have some more blogs to point out.

    http://cuenta-atras.blogspot.com is quite the same as last hours but in spanish (last hours is almost sticky, I have no much time to translate from spanish into english, and I’m giving more time to Cuenta-Atras).

    Another one: http://estudiarlabiblia.blogspot.com I’m trying to collect as much bible studies as possible in this blog (also in spanish). Just in 3 months I have received over 7000 visits interested in bible studies.

    http://escuela-sabatica.blogspot.com in this blog I’m posting just the sabbath school lessonsfor each week. Just the student adult lesson, and creating a permanent archive (week by week). Very often happens that somebody (non adventist) asks you about any topic and you remember that a few months ago (or years) there was a sabbath school lesson with the perfect answer! So my intention is to post every week the SC Lesson so it may happen the same to somebody that types any question at yahoo or google…

    http://matutinas.blogspot.com this is a recent blog. I’m posting each morning (here in Spain- Paris/Madrid time) one EGW reading for morning worship.

    http://dis-fruta.blogspot.com in this blog my wife writes articles about health and veggan recipies.

    If you are interested in knowing more SDA blogs (also in portuguese), please send me a mail. I’m going to link your blog in mine right now.

    God bless you.


  2. Thanks, Pedro…

    So far, I’ve steered clear of listing non-English blogs…for the simple reason that since I read only English, I can’t evaluate the content of non-English blogs to determine if they are appropriate for listing or not.

    I think a good Spanish-language blogroll would provide a real service. Perhaps you could be the one to make that happen!



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