I’ve been reading one of my favorite books again. Have you ever heard of “In His Steps” by Charles Sheldon? It’s old but it’s good! The premise of the story is built around a Church that begins to ask the question “What would Jesus do?” in every one of their daily routines and responsibilities. The results of their answers are key in reshaping their town and eventually a much larger region around them. I can’t encourage you enough to pick up the book!
Every time I read this story I can’t help but apply it to my own situation. What would happen in Southwest AR if a good portion of the believers started honestly asking and answering the question of what it looks like to walk as Jesus walked? No doubt many would call the attempt antiquated and foolish. “Who can actually live as Jesus did?” they might ask. “Business decisions must be made and they can’t always be absolutely moral,” some might reason. “If every relationship we have must be treated as Jesus would treat them we wouldn’t have time to do anything else,” others would respond. “Financial responsibilities reign supreme! How could we give our money away when profits are to be earned and savings are to be built,” still more would counter. You’ve heard of shooting fish in a barrel? A few shots would be fired and before long there would be no swimming reasons and no water to carry them. But what if this suggestion was more than a few random ideas floating around in a barrel? What if this idea was as broad as the ocean and no amount of fish elimination would stop its forward movement?
“Do as I do” is more than a suggestion from the mouth of Jesus. This is carried forward in the Scriptures in a thousand different ways. One of the greatest ways it is carried is through the idea of the disciple. Jesus maintained varying circles of disciples from 12 to 72. Not only were these people charged with learning the character of Jesus’ life and teaching, they were responsible for teaching others to do the same, or making their own disciples. We witness this first hand in Acts and throughout the rest of the New Testament. These men and women took the question “What would Jesus do” personally and applied it in every aspect possible. When asked why they were being so hard headed Peter and John responded “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” Some would call this reckless, irresponsible or disrespectful. The disciples found joy in saying it. The Church called it faithfulness and encouraged all of its members to mimic it. Jesus calls it obedience.
What do you think? If this is more than a whacky idea, if Jesus actually commanded us to do as He did (and still does!), what should our lives look like today? First, let me say that I am no expert at this. I have been faithfully applying this statement to my life for years and I still make big mistakes. I go for weeks with glaring contradictions in my decisions. I allow my daily schedule to get off track for long periods of time, choosing instead of Christ to focus on other things I deem deserving. But I keep walking forward. I keep trying. Second, allow me to say that the goal of this idea of discipleship is not to project an image of perfection. The goal has never been for people to look at us and say “Wow! They’re real disciples!” Instead the goal has and always will be for the world to see Jesus working in us, through us and around us. There is a difference. One assumes that we are Jesus and we get the credit for the good things we do. The other assumes we are helpless and the good that is done by us wholly is credited to another. So what should our lives really look like if we are to take this charge seriously?
There is one word that characterizes the life of the disciple: another. His life is not His own to command or direct. His life belongs to another’s charge. His time is not His to order. His schedule is not his own to set. His career is not his to plan. His bank account is not his to reap. His relationships are not his to choose. The disciple’s life belongs entirely to One he follows.
This kind of selflessness is hard to swallow in today’s world, but it is the only thing that offers our world a future. The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation but if it is not followed with faithful living by those who preach and espouse it, it will fall on deaf ears and blind eyes. Will you consider your life anew under the age old question “What would Jesus do?” Will you put yourself under the guidance of the King, trusting Him to order your steps—all of them—according to His will and purpose? If you will not Southwest AR will only get worse. If you choose to accept this mantle our corner of the state will begin to take a turn for the better. The choice is hard, make no mistake! The decision to be a disciple of Jesus is not an easy, lighthearted choice. But it is full of joy and its ramifications can be felt worldwide. Will you choose Jesus?