Tuesday, 7 June 2011

What would Jesus do? Should I even ask.

1896 novel

In 1896 (yes 1896) a book was released by a Congregationalist church minister Charles Sheldon. It was titled "In His Steps" and was subtitled "What Would Jesus Do?"

Congregationalist Churches are protestant churches that form their own theology and reason. They run their own affairs and may or may not be part of an umbrella organization, but not controlled by such an organization.

The ethos of Sheldon's approach to the Christian life was expressed in this phrase "What Would Jesus Do", with Jesus being a moral example as well as a Saviour figure. In this popular novel (it had been translated into 21 languages by 1935), Rev. Henry Maxwell encounters a homeless man who challenges him to take seriously the imitation of Christ. The homeless man has difficulty understanding why, in his view, so many Christians ignore the poor.This leads to many of the novel's characters asking, "What would Jesus do?" when faced with decisions of some importance. This has the effect of making the characters embrace Christianity more seriously and to focus on what they see as its core — the life of Christ. In the novel men and women respond in different ways: in contrast to the men who vow never to act without asking what Jesus would do, the women's task is self-sacrificial; for example, a singer gives up her voice, both in the sense of yielding her singing to the cause and in the sense of silencing the individual expression of her personality (wiki)

"What would Jesus do?" presupposes that the person asking the question has an intimate knowledge of Jesus. Even Jesus says in Matthew chapter 7: 22-23

"When the day comes many will say to me, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, work many miracles in your name?"
"Then I shall tell them to their faces: I have never known you; away from me, all evil doers!"

Still. it is a good question to ask.

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