Have you ever wondered where the phrase “WWJD” came from? Wonder no more. It came from In His Steps by Charles Sheldon.
In all honesty, I had a hard time reading this book because Sheldon preaches a sermon over and over again. As he advances the story, he slides in a sermon.
But when you read how this book got published the first time, his style of writing makes sense. Like many books of the 1800s, In His Steps appeared as a series of chapters in a weekly periodical. Those readers did not have all the context, hence the repetition.
A homeless man enters a Christian church on Sunday morning and asks the members “What would Jesus do?” about the jobless and the homeless in their town. Many from the congregation commit to live for one year while asking themselves that question before every decision.
The book documents the changes that occur to the main characters. Some surprising developments happen.
The other thing that bothered me was the idealism of the characters. As someone who got converted at 16 and had to make changes “for Christ’s sake” which shocked my family and friends, I relived those painful consequences. Rejection is hard and to this day some of my people do not understand why I am a Protestant and a Bible believer. It is a wound that does not heal with time.
Over three decades later, I have relaxed my choices and become more realistic about Christ’s calling on my time. An overwrought conscience is a hard thing to maneuver and this book reminded me of it.