In His Steps
by Charles Sheldon
In His Steps is probably best known for all of the WWJD merchandise spawned by the book several years ago during the hundredth anniversary of its publication. The question "what would Jesus do?" lies at the heart of the story. It follows the residents of a town as each asks him- or herself what Jesus would do in his/her specific situation in life. The decisions each person faces are always addressed with the question of how their Lord would act in the given circumstance, and it sometimes results in surprising choices made.
The story begins when a tramp enters the worship service of a small midwestern church. He dies in their midst, and leaves with them this challenging notion of what Jesus would do. As the members begin working out the answers for themselves, it brings about a revival of a sort never seen in the church or town before, and eventually sweeps across the nation.
The novel has made an impact on Christian readers for several generations now. Its no-nonsense approach to what it sees as the heart of the Christian faith — a close following of Jesus — has sent forth resounding echoes in the Christian community. The idea is clearly presented that Christians aren't so much a part of a religion, and Christianity is not an institution. Rather, it is about a personal relationship with a man who calls each individual to live in the same way he did. It is, in short, about being a disciple and learning from the master.
The emphasis on a personal relationship with Jesus and the individual's responsibility to make choices that honor him can be said to be at the heart of evangelical Christianity. It is no wonder, then, that this book has been so popular within that specific community.
Reviewed by Shelly Bryant © 2010