Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Book Review: In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon

In His Steps, by Charles Sheldon
My rating:  8 out of 10
Age range:  12 and up

    In His Steps was recommended to me by a friend, who said it had impacted him greatly.  I can see why- it provokes the reader to ask the question "What would Jesus do?"  It is the story of a movement begun by a tramp who comes to town asking for work, and intrudes upon the comfortable and easy going First Church of Raymond.  The members are astonished and scandalized when he gets up and asks a number of thought provoking questions, but the pastor is deeply impressed.  The impression is deepened yet more by the death of the man shortly after they meet.  The next week he asks his church for volunteers who are willing to pledge that for at least one year, they will regulate all their actions by first asking the question:  "What would Jesus do?"

    The results are surprising.  Most of the volunteers undergo trials of one sort or another, and one man even loses his high-paying job because he will not close his eyes to the dishonest practices of the company which employs him.  A great outreach begins in the lowest part of town, helped by a young lady who could have been a famous opera singer, but chooses instead to use her voice for the glory of God.  Her wealthy friend employs a large part of her money in helping the mission forward in the slums, befriending many of the poor girls there, and even bringing one into her own mansion.  The far-reaching results of people regulating their lives by asking themselves “what would Jesus do”, are amazing, and this book causes readers to ask themselves the same question.
    There is an issue with this book, however, which is why I have given it only 8 out of 10 stars.  The answers to this important question are generally left up to the person to figure out.  The Bible is not consulted for the answer, even though it tells us very clearly what Jesus did.  Generally, the answers found by the characters in the story are biblical, but not all of them are, and Scripture is not clearly held up as the only way of knowing what Jesus did and would do.  
    So, although overall it is a pretty good book, we cannot be too careful in considering the question “What would Jesus do?”.  We must found our answers upon the Bible, not merely on what seems like a good plan for ministry.

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