In his step is a religious novel written by Charles Monroe Sheldon. The novel is a deeply convicting prose based and influenced by the scriptures. It was written towards the end of the 19th century, a time when America witnessed great economic disparity, where a few people enjoyed the nations wealth, while millions languished in poverty. The author poses a challenge, What would Jesus do? in the bid to combat the economic and social disparity in a Christ like manner. The author achieves his objective by presenting a variety of interesting characters displayed in a nice plot and literally techniques.
The novel depicts characters whose personalities are not overdone or cheesy. Their strengths and weakness is not blatantly obvious to the reader and one has to engage the book before forming conclusions about any of the characters. The naivety of Reverend Maxwell, for example, is depicted when he ignored the presence of the trump who showed up at his place You will have to excuse me. I am very busy this morning. I hope you will find something. Sorry I can't give you something to do here (Sheldon 3).
Maxwell would later turn around and lead a whole campaign on what Jesus would do? Maxwell challenges his congregation to dedicate themselves in service of others and to act like Christ would. I want volunteers from the First Church who will pledge themselves, earnestly and honestly for an entire year, not to do anything without first asking the question, 'What would Jesus do?' And after asking that question, each one will follow Jesus as exactly as he knows how, no matter what the result may be. (Sheldon 13)
Sheldon takes the phrase, what would Jesus do? to a whole new level using a complex yet relatable and enjoyable plot line. The entire book is filled with Biblical truth and teachings. The plot is not sluggish or rushed in any way. The characters continue to develop, each individually. The coverage is not only instructional but has element of entertainment and humor. There is faith and determination expressed by various character in their struggle to reconcile their lives with that of Christ 1_Peter 2:21: "For hereunto were ye called; because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that ye should follow his steps." (Sheldon 1). The lesson displayed are inspired by scripture and thus are not bound to Richmond town but transcends to every society.
The author employs effective omission as the key literary technique (Sheldon 3). He delays and limits information on several characters and the reader has to engage the book to divulge the personalities of each of each of them. The novel is presented in the third person and thus helps paint a vivid picture of the situation in Richmond town.
In His Step is a significant novel in the history of American religious study as it is one of the few books that demands a quantifiable Christian service from Christians. The author presents a variety of characters and uses them to point out the situation in the world and the role of the Christian in correcting the injustices and problems in the world. The author seeks to bring kingdom of heaven- peace justice and equality. To the earth through the means of social action and volunteerism from the side of Christians.
Charles M. Sheldon, Bell James Jr. (ed) In His Steps. Cook Publishing Company 2002; 1-44
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