“What Is Meant By Following Jesus?”

Charles Sheldon wrote an eye-opening, heart-challenging book in 1896 entitled In His Steps. From this book came the well-known phrase “What would Jesus do?”

In this book, Pastor Henry Maxwell challenges his congregation to ask this question regarding everything they do throughout their day. One skeptical man asked this pointed question: what is meant by following Jesus?

“I’ve tramped through this city for three days trying to find a job; and in all that time I’ve not had a word of sympathy or comfort except from your minister here, who said he was sorry for me and hoped I would find a job somewhere. 

“Of course, I understand you can’t all go out of your way to hunt up jobs for other people like me. I’m not asking you to; but what is meant by following Jesus? Do you mean that you are suffering and denying yourselves and trying to save lost, suffering humanity just as I understand Jesus did? What do you mean by it? 

“I see the ragged edge of things a good deal. My wife died four months ago. I’m glad she is out of trouble. My little girl is staying with a printer’s family until I find a job. Somehow I get puzzled when I see so many Christians living in luxury and remember how my wife died in a tenement in New York City, gasping for air and asking God to take the little girl too. Of course I don’t expect you people can prevent everyone from dying of starvation, lack of proper nourishment, and tenement air, but what does following Jesus mean? A member of a church was the owner of the tenement where my wife died, and I have wondered if following Jesus all the way was true in his case. 

“It seems to me there’s an awful lot of trouble in the world that somehow wouldn’t exist if all the people who sing your songs went and lived them out. I suppose I don’t understand. But what would Jesus do? It seems to me sometimes as if the people in the big churches have good clothes and nice houses to live in, and money to spend for luxuries, while the people outside the churches, thousands of them, I mean, die in tenements, and walk the streets for jobs, and grow up in misery and drunkenness and sin.”

So for you, what does it mean if you say you are following Jesus?

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