Psalm 56, Proverbs 23, I Peter 2:21-25
Here’s an interesting story. In 1896, Charles Monroe Sheldon wrote a little book about a small-town church that was challenged when one Sunday an apparent, homeless beggar came walking into the middle of their worship service. The events that unfolded caused that little congregation to ask themselves, “What would Jesus do” in that situation? Under the guidance of a young, naïve, pastor, they began to live out the call of I Peter 2:21, “To this, you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in His steps.” The book, by Sheldon, took on that name, “In His Steps,” and told the story of an entire town that was dramatically changed because a handful of people started taking seriously the call to live imatio dei, in the imitation of God.
“In His Steps” has sold over 50,000,000 copies, not to mention the millions of WWJD? bracelets, hats, and t-shirts. Whole church growth campaigns have been built around that theme. I think I even did a 40 Day Spiritual Adventure once based on In His Steps. I think it is safe to say that thousands and thousands, maybe millions of lives have been changed by this simple story and basic thought, what would happen if I really began to try to live like Jesus did in all of my encounters? I Corinthians 10:31 says, “So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, DO EVERYTHING for the glory of God.” There’s the rub, that pesky little word EVERYTHING.
What if I approached the Word of God like Jesus did? With a passion for it? Having it readily at the tip of my tongue, giving the devil an answer from it every time he challenged me?
What if I was so eager to enter into the presence of the Father that I often, and always found time, early in the morning to leave the crowd and go pray?
What if I was so interested in God’s children that I just went about doing good? Feeding the hungry, taking care of the poor, ministering to the widows and orphans, and setting the captives free?
What if I loved God’s church so much that I took every opportunity to go to worship? That I was willing to confront it when it got off track but was also willing to give my life for it?
And what if even the planet I treated with love and respect, seeing in it a thousand illustrations of the goodness of God? What if I saw sheep, and grapevines, and storms as pictures of how the Kingdom of God works?
Let me tell you something very profound, that is hard to do! I lean the other way. In even my best efforts it is so easy to get selfish, sidetracked, and sinful, and just mess the whole thing up. Here’s an interesting “other part” of that story. The original publisher of “In His Steps,” Chicago Advance, failed to register the copyright properly way back there in 1896. Other publishers took advantage of that mistake and published the book without paying Sheldon royalties, reducing the cost and increasing the profits for the publishers. In other words, a book about doing what Jesus would do made some people a lot of money because they failed to do what Jesus would do!
Before I shake my head at those scoundrels, I have to admit that I am no better. I can’t tell you the number of times I have started out trying to be more like Jesus, only to see a way to look out for oi’ number 1, and taking it. What if I didn’t? What if I really set my sights on engaging everyone and everything around me in a different way? What if I walked in His steps and did what He would do in every walk of life? Well. The answer is, I don’t know. I’ve never really done it. But I am determined to get better at it. Starting today.
Remember, actually love the things that God loves:
- His Word, read the Bible passages today from the top of the page.
- His Presence. pray 12 minutes today, using the Our Father as an outline.
- His People, do something kind for one person today.
- His Church, take on a project for your church. Easter is coming up. I’m sure they could use some help with sprucing up.
- His Creation. Think creatively about something you can do to make the planet healthier. Order Serve God, Save the Planet (on Kindle so you save a tree 🙂 )
See you tomorrow. We are down to just over 10 days!