Monday, October 26, 2015


I first became acquainted with the "What Would Jesus Do?" movement in the late 1990's when golfer Payne Stewart wore the letters in a bracelet.  Turns out, that was a revival of a much earlier practice.  In 1896 Rev. Charles M. Sheldon published a book called In His Steps.  It was a huge, best seller at the time.  Although the author made almost no money from the book, he  delighted in the fact that so many people read his message of living a life as Christ would.
    Over the years several authors wrote adaptations of In His Steps and in 1997 Garret W. Sheldon, the great grandson of Charles Sheldon wrote What Would Jesus Do?, a contemporary version of his ancestor's original book.  
    When I began the book, I wasn't sure I'd like it, the writing style is reminiscent of 1960's Sunday School leaflets, but I soon became so fascinated with the characters and their tales that my inner editor fell away.  The story, this is fiction, concerns the minister of a large, well-off congregation who realizes that their church is "successful"  in secular terms but failing in their duty to model Christ to the community around them.  So he and a number of his congregation take a pledge to live their lives in accordance with Jesus' teachings.  Every time they must make a decision they ask first "what would Jesus do?"  The results are amazing.
     Attendance at church drops, but attendance at the after-church meetings of those taking the pledge goes up.  A TV station decides not to air questionable programming or advertising.  The result is an increase in viewers.  A store keeper decides to remove pornography, tobacco and liquor from his shelves.  His business falls away.  He faces financial set backs and his wife is very unhappy.  A young woman breaks her engagement.  The congregation sets up a mission in the seedy part of town and sees many broken souls respond to Christ's call.
    Living "What Would Jesus Do?" has consequences, some welcome, some more difficult.  
    The book is an easy read, but one that made me think, made me consider my own choices, turned "what would Jesus do?" from a slogan on a coffee mug into a real question for life.  Thanks to Rev. Irwin for loaning it to me.

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