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Last Updated on August 5, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 595

Quotes from In His Steps by Charles Sheldon help describe the characters and show the themes of emulating Christ and helping mankind. 

The challenge issued by Reverend Maxwell is that everyone lives for a year by asking what Jesus would do before making decisions. It affects the lives of his...

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Quotes from In His Steps by Charles Sheldon help describe the characters and show the themes of emulating Christ and helping mankind. 

The challenge issued by Reverend Maxwell is that everyone lives for a year by asking what Jesus would do before making decisions. It affects the lives of his congregation in many ways and inspires changes that are far-reaching. He says:

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. I will of course include myself in this company of volunteers.

In the end, he's happy that he issued the challenge and feels that the Christ-centered mindset could improve the entire world.

When Rachel refuses Rollin's offer of marriage, he's devastated. He's a wealthy man who has lived his entire life for his own pleasure. He explains to his sister why Rachel refused him, saying,

"I have never loved any one but Rachel Winslow." Rollin spoke calmly enough now. "That day she was here when you talked about her refusal to join the concert company, I asked her to be my wife; out there on the avenue. She refused me, as I knew she would. And she gave as her reason the fact that I had no purpose in life, which was true enough."

Ultimately, this refusal and Reverend Maxwell's challenge spur Rollin to change his life. He does end up finding a purpose in helping others and Rachel accepts his proposal.

Unlike most of the people in the novel, Jasper Chase decides to go against Reverend Maxwell's challenge and continue publishing his novels. Sheldon writes:

When he had finished the last page of the last chapter of his book it was nearly dark. "What would Jesus do?" He had finally answered the question by denying his Lord. It grew darker in his room. He had deliberately chosen his course, urged on by his disappointment and loss.

At the end of the novel, Chase is said to have a "cold, cynical, formal life, writing novels that were social successes, but each one with a sting in it, the reminder of his denial, the bitter remorse that, do what he would, no social success could remove." Unlike the people who accepted Reverend Maxwell's challenge, Chase turns it down and suffers from a less-than-fulfilling life because of it.

In the end of the novel, Reverend Maxwell dreams a vision of a future changed by people emulating Christ and attempting to live like him. Sheldon writes,

He thought he saw the church of Jesus in America open its heart to the moving of the Spirit and rise to the sacrifice of its ease and self-satisfaction in the name of Jesus. He thought he saw the motto, "What would Jesus do?" inscribed over every church door, and written on every church member's heart.

The vision vanished. It came back clearer than before, and he saw the Endeavor Societies all over the world carrying in their great processions at some mighty convention a banner on which was written, "What would Jesus do?" And he thought in the faces of the young men and women he saw future joy of suffering, loss, self-denial, martyrdom.

Reverend Maxwell believes the movement started in Raymond can change the entire world if people continue to embrace his challenge. He believes it could contribute to a better future for humanity.

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