I love exploring local bookstores when we’re on vacation. I’ve found all kinds of treasures on their racks. One such treasure was the book, In His Steps by Charles Sheldon.
Even if you’re not familiar with the book itself, which I highly recommend, you probably are well aware of the acronym that came from it.
What would Jesus do?
Those four words changed the lives of a congregation of characters in Sheldon’s book and they’ve changed the lives of many since. But it’s not just the letters or question that changed their lives . . . it was the Scripture verse that inspired the question.
For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering, just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps.1 Peter 2:21
Following in Jesus’ steps has come to mean many different things since Sheldon published his book 1896, and in recent years it often feels like it means whatever we want it to mean.
So, I wanted to take a closer look at the verses around this “in His steps” verse to learn about the point Peter was making to 1st Century Jewish Christians.
Verses 19 and 20 read:
God is pleased when, conscious of his will, you patiently endure unjust treatment. Of course, you get no credit for being patient if you are beaten for doing wrong. But if you suffer for doing good and endure it patiently, God is pleased with you.
Verses 22 and 23:
He never sinned,
nor ever deceived anyone.
He did not retaliate when he was insulted,
nor threaten revenge when he suffered.
He left his case in the hands of God,
who always judges fairly.
That sounds a lot like following in Jesus’ steps means taking up our cross and following wherever He leads, doesn’t it?
“If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”Luke 9:23
I don’t know about you but I find consistently living with that kind of obedience impossible.
The people hearing those words of Jesus for the first time knew that the condemned in Jerusalem, under Roman rule, had to carry their own cross to the site of crucifixion.
Peter was one of those original hearers. He knew that following Jesus meant a person must give up their own selfish desires and offer themselves as living sacrifices willing to trust and obey God’s will in all circumstances. To be willing to suffer for doing good . . . to obey His commands to love.
Wow, those are big steps to follow! It takes knowing His Word to know where His steps lead and faithful prayer for His help and strength.
A Prayer for Help and Strength to Follow “In His Steps”
Father, please forgive me. I want to follow Jesus the way You ask. I want to obey You and willingly carry the crosses You ask me to carry.
I am so sorry for falling short of Your perfect will. I confess that I can be impatient and selfish. I repent that I have like Jonah run the other direction when what You ask seems hard. I’m ashamed that I allow the distractions of the world to keep me from trusting and obeying You the way You want me to.
Thank you, Jesus. You carried the cross of my punishment. Because of Your sacrificial love, I can come before the Father and receive forgiveness. I am eternally grateful for Your compassion and love.
I love You, Lord. I give myself to You. Please help me by the power of Your Spirit to trust and obey the way You want me to. Please help me follow in the steps of my Savior, even when it means suffering by carrying a burdensome cross. Please help me love in ways that will give You glory. Help me love like Jesus, in whose name I pray. Amen.
Something I’ve wondered in the last few years is if #WWJD has become an easy phrase we use to tell other people what they should be doing and saying rather than being a personal commitment to actually knowing, loving, and obeying Jesus.
We need to know what Jesus did before we can begin to know what He would do. We need to know what He commanded His followers to do. We need to spend time with Him and know His heart if we want to follow in His steps.
On today’s note write:
With God’s help, I will trust and obey Jesus. I will follow in His steps.
May God bless you as you surrender yourself to follow Jesus.
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