Monday, May 27, 2013

In His Steps

1Peter 2:21-25  For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. "He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth." When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

In 1897 Charles Monroe Sheldon wrote a book entitled In His Steps  which was to become a Christian classic of its time. The title is borrowed from 1 Peter 2:21 “so that you should follow in his steps” , and this book challenges its reader not to do anything in life without first asking “What would Jesus do?” I am fascinated that although this book went on to sell more than 30 000 000 copies, and many, many more contemporary followers of Jesus have worn wrist bands with WWJD etched on them, very few have taken the time to think about the context of the verse that started it all: 1 Peter 2:21.

This verse comes from Peter’s letter written from Rome in approximately 67AD, to encourage Christians in the north-east province of what is known as Asia Minor (Turkey). They are dealing with the struggle to remain faithful to the way of Jesus in the face of religious and political persecution. Peter points out that Jesus also suffered “leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps”.  Therefore following in Jesus steps (by asking the question “What would Jesus do?”) is specific to suffering.

The question more accurately asks: “What would Jesus do when confronted with suffering, persecution and difficulty?” Jesus responded to persecution without returning the abuse, or threatening the abuser. Instead he “entrusted himself to the one who judges justly”.  So, following in the steps of Jesus, asks us to be grace-filled in the face of suffering.

The challenge for today is for us to complain less about the violation of our dignity and human rights, and learn to respond to abuse with the love and grace of Jesus.



Make me a channel of your peace.
Where there is hatred let me bring your love.
Where there is injury, your pardon, Lord
And where there's doubt, true faith in you.
Oh, Master grant that I may never seek
So much to be consoled as to console
To be understood as to understand
To be loved as to love with all my soul.

 Words: Sebastian Temple - based on a prayer by Saint Francis    




First Sunday after Trinity
31 Mercy, Justice and Love
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 197.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day.



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