Looking at the Past, Present and Future

Looking at the Past, Present and Future

May 24, 2013

Looking at the Past, Present and Future

by Ralph Mackintosh


One challenge in moving Forward in His Footsteps is seeking to understand where God is leading and already working, and then joining Him in His perfect plans. A key word in the theme is “Forward.” When we seek to follow Jesus’ footsteps, there is a naturally human temptation to look only backward at where He already walked and try to duplicate that pattern exactly.

When Charles Sheldon preached at his church in Topeka, Kansas, he repeatedly posed the question, “What would Jesus do?” These were sermons about the life situations encountered by average people in normal life circumstances. He challenged his congregation to ponder the question of how Jesus would react and respond to these issues. With the publication of his book In His Steps, the concept spread until the book had become the second bestselling religious book in the world after the Bible.

In more recent times, of course, it became a kind of mantra for the Christian community with “WWJD” plastered everywhere from bumper stickers to bracelets and jewelry. Unfortunately, this once-new-and-novel approach that challenged Christians has slowly evolved into a simple slogan and easy answer. Instead of pushing the boundaries and taking Christianity into new frontiers, we can be tempted to stay within the defined limits of what Jesus did in his three years of ministry.

We can also be diverted from expanding our mission by concentrating all our efforts on analyzing the exact details of Christ’s walk and manners. I am convinced that the reason we don’t know more details of Christ’s life is that we would obsess with the details and miss much of the message. If we knew exactly how Jesus wore his hair, how he dressed, or what brand of shoes he had on his feet, many would want to be exactly like Jesus in all the minor details. If we had true pieces of the cross or the cup of the last supper we might be tempted to worship those relics (as can be seen in some of Christendom).

Just as the Jews of Jesus’ time—who spent all their time looking back to the Torah and their Abrahamic heritage—we can be caught up in only looking back at where Jesus walked in trying to Follow in His Footsteps. I would propose that following in the footsteps of Jesus requires us to look in three directions at once; an interesting but possible feat—just ask any mother with “eyes in the back of her head.”

1) We do need to look back at the biblical record of Jesus’ ministry to understand the principles and teachings of the Master.

2) However, we also need to look at where God is leading us in the present and watch that we are living our lives on the narrow path.

3) At the same time, we need to actively listen to His voice and look for where He wants to direct our paths in the future.

Pastor Leonard Sweet once wrote in a sermon, “Christians today need to live so thoroughly in Christ and have Christ within so completely, that our own footsteps become Christ’s new walk in this world.”

So, I would challenge Seventh Day Baptists to look back to study Jesus’ footprints, make new footprints today that reflect the Savior, and stride forward seeking to follow where He wants to lead. Let’s all move Forward in His Footsteps as individuals, as churches and as a denomination.


By now your plans should be well set to join us in Colorado for what I hope and pray will be a remarkable Conference. For the latest updates and news on speakers, seminars, concerts and activities, look for us on Facebook at “Sdb General Conference 2013 In Colorado Springs.”

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