One hundred years ago Christians read Charles Sheldon’s In His Steps with runaway enthusiasm. Sheldon’s story traces the account of the fictional Reverend Maxwell who challenges himself and his congregation to constantly ask, “What would Jesus do?” This question puts all of life’s circumstances in a new light. Those characters in Sheldon’s book who take the challenge of this question seriously live dramatically changed lives. But a changed life responding to Jesus’ example of compassion and grace does not always make things easier. People in Sheldon’s story learn that acting like Jesus can alienate others who prefer status quo comfort and social respectability. The real challenge of the question, “What would Jesus do?” is not the initial fervor it evokes but the sustained devotion it can produce.
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