Walking in 2013

At our church’s first Sunday meeting of 2013, the metaphor I chose to describe how we should live for Jesus this year probably didn’t sound very inspiring at first: walking. Walking, not flying, or running. One foot in front of the other, keep going.

The first Christians did use more energetic and exciting language to talk about the Christian life, such as running (Hebrews 12:1, 1 Corinthians 9:24), and they believed in a God who is sufficient for whatever speed you are going at (Isaiah 40:31). But in his letter to the Ephesians, a group of healthy churches for whom at least a light jog would have seemed an appropriate aspiration, Paul repeatedly talks about Christianity in terms of walking:

  • “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (2:10)
  • “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.” (4:1)
  • “Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the [non-believers] do.” (4:17)
  • “Walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.” (5:2)
  • “Walk as children of light.” (5:8)
  • “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise.” (5:15)

Some Christians want to run all the time because they think that’s the only way to keep God happy. Their life is a desperate and exhausting performance because how much is ever enough when you’re trying to satisfy the perfect, all-knowing One? Understanding our true identity in Jesus takes this pressure away. Ephesians itself is one of the best things you can read to get this. God’s rescue of us and love for us were not earned by us, nor can they be repaid: “this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” (2:8) We don’t have to run, to keep up, we can walk and enjoy the freedom and favour God has given us.

There can also be a presumption in setting massive goals for a new year, as Liam Thatcher well describes here.

But wouldn’t we be more productive if we ran? Sometimes that’s true, but we tend to overestimate what we can achieve in the short-term, and underestimate what we can do in the long-term. William Carey is a great hero of church history. He is known as the father of modern missions for the pioneering work in India which he did despite many person and social pressures. His list of achievements, and set-backs, is staggering. Surely he was someone who ran hard and fast? No. Here’s what he said about his life: “I can plod. I can persevere in any definite pursuit. To this I owe everything.”

Come to think of it, when do you ever see Jesus rushing around in the gospels? If we walk with God consistently, daily, faithfully, He will do great things through us and in us.

It’s worth remembering too, that Paul encouraged the Ephesians to walk wisely “because the days are evil” (5:16). People walking for leisure won’t want to go out in the dark, cold, and wet – but the emergency services must. Christians must.