October 18, 2012
In His Steps
For some reason I thought this book was non-fiction, but it's actually a moving work of fiction. Written and set in the late 19th century, it took me a bit of time to get used to the language style and way of life.
Most of the main characters are wealthy men and women who attend a prominent church in the city of Raymond. They do all the 'politically correct' Christian things like giving to charity, reading their Bibles and being polite.
But then one day the pastor encounters a beggar at his door and decides to turn him away. Later the man shows up at the church during one of his services.
Convicted by the Holy Spirit, the pastor then takes the man into his home. After great thought and prayer the pastor challenges his congregation to live like Jesus and not to make any life decisions without asking 'what would Jesus do?'
What happens to the people who choose to go through with this pledge and the circumstances they face are so inspiring. Giving their lives over to the guidance of the Holy Spirit and learning to obey, even if that means being ostracized, losing their business or the comfort and luxuries of their station.
There were several powerful scenes where the characters bowed their heads and cried out to God, these scenes really got to me. To envision a man weeping before God asking Him for guidance and strength is so beautiful, it made me think of David, a man after God's own heart.
"A Psalm of David. LORD, I cry out to You; Make haste to me! Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You."
"And when He had removed him, He raised up for them David as king, to whom also He gave testimony and said, 'I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My own heart, who will do all My will."
Sometimes when we obey the Spirit of God's leading we may be precieved as fanatics, but we can't let that keep us for obeying. I can recall many times in my life where I obeyed and been ostracized for it, and sadly many times I didn't obey and had to ask God to forgive my lack of faith.
In some ways the theme of this book reminded me of David Platt's book 'Radical' A book which encourages us to not just live for Jesus but to suffer with Him, to imitate Him.
"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
Give no offense, either to the Jews or to the Greeks or to the church of God,
just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ."
1Corinthians 10:31-33 & 11:1
Here's a challenging quote from the last chapter of the book:
'Jesus, I my cross have taken
All to leave and follow Thee?'
"If we can sing that truly, then we may claim discipleship. But if our definition of being a Christian is simple to enjoy the privileges of worship, be generous at no expense to ourselves, have a good, easy time surrounded by pleasant friends and by comfortable things, live respectably and at the same time avoid the world's great stress of sin and trouble because it is too much pain to bear it - if this is our definition of Christianity, surely we are a long way from following the steps of Him who trod the way with groans and tears and sobs of anguish for a lost humanity; who sweat, as it were, great drops of blood, who cried out on the unreared cross, 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'
Are we ready to make and live a new discipleship? Are we ready to reconsider our definition of a Christian? What is it to be a Christian? It is to imitate Jesus. It is to do as He would do. It is to walk in His steps."
I recently started watching a BBC show called 'Call the Midwife' which is based on the memoirs of Jennifer Worth and set in East London during the 1950's. It is one of the most beautiful shows I've ever seen. One that holds life precious.
Here I found 2 wonderful examples of suffering with Christ:
A young nurse goes to help an old man with ulcers on his legs. She doesn't just go and do her job and leave, but makes an effort to spend time with this lonely man and get to know him. Later he is forced out of his home due to bad living conditions and forms gangrene in his legs. Both have to be amputated. The young nurse comes to visit him in the hospital and weeps by his bedside for him. I think that's what suffering with Christ looks like. It's putting someone's pain ahead of yourself and sharing in it with them. I know this is what Jesus would do.
An older woman in her 40's finds out she is pregnant. Her husband is over the moon with excitement. He is even older than she. They met late in life after her first husband past away and though she didn't love him at first, she married for comfort. When she goes into labor she is terrified because she worries the baby may be black. She had had a one night stand and fears abandonment from her husband. When she delivers, the baby is in fact black, but when her husband comes into see them he falls in love with this beautiful little bundle and never says a thing. It's obvious he knows but his love for his wife and her child out weight it and he forgives and calls the little one his son. I know this is what Jesus would do.
God, please help us be real Christians. Help us not to just follow You, but imitate You.
Buy it HERE on Amazon