In His Steps Book Summary - In His Steps Book explained in key points

In His Steps summary

Charles M. Sheldon

Brief summary

In His Steps by Charles M. Sheldon tells the story of a pastor who challenges his congregation to live according to the question, "What would Jesus do?" It explores the transformative power of living out one's faith in practical ways.

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    In His Steps
    Summary of key ideas

    A Call to Christian Discipleship

    In the book In His Steps by Charles M. Sheldon, we are introduced to a Reverend Henry Maxwell, a pastor in the fictional town of Raymond, who faces an unexpected challenge during a regular church service. A homeless man interrupts the congregation by questioning their practice of Christianity, highlighting the disparity between their fulfilled lives and his life of despair. Haunted by the man's death soon after, Maxwell encourages his wealthy congregation to start leading a Christian life of true discipleship.

    Accepting this challenge, they pledge to ask themselves "What would Jesus do?" before making any decisions, a question that becomes a guide in their journey of living according to Jesus's teachings. This journey isn’t easy, as they find their comfortable lifestyles and commonly accepted societal norms at odds with the life of self-sacrifice and benevelence that Jesus lived.

    A Test of Faith

    The book further delves into their struggles and the profound changes in their lives. A successful newspaper owner, Edward Norman, starts publishing only the truth, regardless of losing readership and revenue. Rachel Winslow decides to use her musical talent in the local church instead of the grand opera stage. Virginia, a wealthy heiress, chooses to use her inheritance for the rehabilitation of the city's Rectangle district. Each character, in their unique way, gives up something valuable to live a more Christ-like life.

    Alongside these personal transformation stories, Sheldon introduces a variety of social issues like alcoholism, unemployment, worker exploitation and town politics, emphasizing the need for Christians to take meaningful action. The effect of this new way of life extends beyond personal transformations and impacts the entire community, encouraging more people to walk 'in His steps.'

    Christianity Beyond Rites and Rituals

    As the narrative progresses, the characters' commitment to their pledge faces more complex challenges, and their faith is put to test. Sheldon demonstrates through his characters that achieving Christian ideals isn't a matter of following church practices but calls for a higher commitment and deeper understanding of humanity. The second part of the book explores the spread of this Christian movement in other cities like Chicago, with Sheldon highlighting how society could transform if everyone lived the way Jesus did.

    For instance, a business tycoon, Milton Wright, adopts a more compassionate approach, providing welfare for his employees. Playwright Loreen decides to write a play depicting Christ's philosophy in the modern world, despite the risk of it being rejected by conventional theatres. These unfolding events reinforce Sheldon's premise that following Christ's teachings sincerely could lead to a more equitable and compassionate world.

    A Christian Utopia

    In the concluding chapters, Sheldon shows a transformed Raymond city, where previously struggling communities are now prosperous and ethical practices have replaced dishonesty in business and politics. This vision represents a Christian Utopia, underscoring Sheldon’s belief in the power of true Christian living in fostering social justice and equality.

    In conclusion, In His Steps challenges Christians to truly live the teachings of Christ in their daily life. By questioning "What would Jesus do?", it offers readers a fresh perspective on discipleship and the transformative power of benevolence, moving beyond Sunday preaching to living the faith every day, thus impacting societal change. The book remains a seminal work in Christian literature, inspiring the modern-day Christian discipleship movement.

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    What is In His Steps about?

    In His Steps is a thought-provoking novel that challenges readers to consider what it truly means to live a life dedicated to following in the footsteps of Jesus. When a small town pastor challenges his congregation to ask themselves "What would Jesus do?" before making any decision, it sets off a chain of events that leads to profound personal and societal transformation. Through its compelling narrative, the book explores themes of faith, social justice, and the power of living out one's beliefs. It is a timeless classic that continues to inspire readers to examine their own actions and choices.

    In His Steps Review

    In His Steps (1896) by Charles M. Sheldon is a thought-provoking book that challenges readers to live their lives in alignment with their values and faith. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It poses deep moral questions that compel readers to examine their own actions and consider the impact of their choices.
    • The book explores the power of living out one's beliefs in society, sparking a reflection on the importance of authenticity and making a difference.
    • With its compelling characters and intricate plot, the book manages to captivate readers and keep them engaged throughout, ensuring it is anything but boring.

    Who should read In His Steps?

    • Readers searching for a thought-provoking and introspective narrative
    • Individuals interested in exploring the intersection between faith and social justice
    • Anyone looking for a book that encourages ethical decision-making in everyday life

    About the Author

    Charles M. Sheldon was an American minister and author. He is best known for his novel "In His Steps," which was first published in 1896. The book tells the story of a small town pastor who challenges his congregation to live their lives according to the question "What would Jesus do?" This simple yet powerful concept sparked a movement and has had a lasting impact on Christian thought and action. Sheldon's other notable works include "Robert Hardy's Seven Days" and "The Crucifixion of Philip Strong."

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    In His Steps FAQs 

    What is the main message of In His Steps?

    The main message of In His Steps is to live our lives by asking 'what would Jesus do?'

    How long does it take to read In His Steps?

    The reading time for In His Steps varies depending on the reader, but it can be read in just a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in 15 minutes.

    Is In His Steps a good book? Is it worth reading?

    In His Steps is a thought-provoking and insightful book that challenges us to live a more intentional and compassionate life. It's definitely worth reading.

    Who is the author of In His Steps?

    The author of In His Steps is Charles M. Sheldon.

    What to read after In His Steps?

    If you're wondering what to read next after In His Steps, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • On Being by Peter Atkins
    • The Biology of Belief by Bruce H. Lipton
    • Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson
    • Choose Yourself by James Altucher
    • Going Clear by Lawrence Wright
    • Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer
    • The Power of No by James Altucher and Claudia Azula Altucher