Have you ever been on a walk that was more than just a walk?
Perhaps it was a romantic walk; or maybe an important business matter was discussed during a walk; or a life-changing decision was made during a walk.
I remember going on many walks with Jackie during which we discussed my many attempts to understand God’s call on our lives together. We have walked and talked about having children and what we will name them; we have walked and talked about my becoming a deacon and about my becoming a priest, and (during a month of uncertainty and confusion) we talked about the possibility of my studying to become a rare book librarian.
Sometimes a walk is more than mere walking.
The Bible is filled with admonitions for Christians to “walk” in a certain way. In Ephesians, the word “walk” occurs in 7 separate places.
For example in Ephesians 2:10 Paul informs us that God has ordained that we should walk in good works. In 4:1 we hear that we are to walk worthy of our calling, and in 4:17 Paul teaches that we should not walk as the Gentiles walk.
But what does it mean to “walk,” in biblical terms? It means “to live” or the manner of conducting one’s self.
Any time you walk, you have to have a destination and know where you’re going, and you have to know how to get there, the direction. But when you walk with someone, you also have to have a desire to walk with that person.
Our life with God, our walk with God, is the same way. Walking with God, involves 3 things:
1. a desire to walk with God – to Walk in Love (verses 1-7)
2. a direction as to how to walk with God – Walk in Light (verses 8-14)
3. a destination for where we are walking with God – Walk in Wisdom and Obedience (verses 15-21, even though they are technically outside of today’s lesson)
To walk with God, we must first have a desire to walk with God; we must walk in love as He first loved us (verses 1-2.) When walking with someone, and not just by yourself, or not just happening to be going the same direction, you have to have a desire to walk – to be – with that person. This was certainly true of Jackie and me when we were courting. Yes, we had places we were walking to, but the most important part of the walk was the being with Jackie. There was a great desire to walk with her. Just recently, on a Monday when I was not doing church work and the kids were in school, I had the best time just running (or should I say walking) errands with Jackie because I got to be with her. For me, being with Jackie, is something like being in heaven.
In the same way, we must walk with God – we must walk in love, desiring to be in the presence of God. Though Paul is primarily speaking of walking in love toward one another, this love begins by loving God. To walk with God, to live with Him and experience Him, we must be willing to imitate Him (verse 1.)
Children are born imitators. Whenever I do something silly at the dinner table, you can bet that child by child, wildly mutating as each takes a turn, my children will imitate what I have just done (and Jackie just shakes her head.) We even have a saying at my house: “Children See, Children Do.”
To imitate God means to walk in love, as He is love. Jesus Christ loved us and gave Himself as an offering for us (verse 2), and if we want to walk with God we must offer ourselves as living sacrifices to God by giving up ourselves for others. In verses 3-6 Paul shows us that lust is opposed to love. Unfortunately, our culture confuses the two, especially when it comes to sex. Lust is about pleasing oneself, but love is about doing what is best for others.
In every walk, you must not only have a desire but you must have a direction: you must know the way. Therefore, in walking with God, we are to walk in light, His light (verse 8.) Light gives us the direction to see where we should walk
One of the mistakes that Christians make, especially young Christians, is in walking with those who are in darkness. Paul says, however, that we are to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. This doesn’t mean we have no contact with those who are still in
darkness, but it does mean that we do not do what they do and that we don’t put ourselves in a position where those in darkness are determining the shape and behavior of our life.
Darkness is often seductive. The world tries hard to make it look sexy and glamorous. It’s cool to get drunk; it sophisticated to commit adultery; and everybody sleeps around. I’ve know too many Christian young people who keep making poor choices in friends and poor choice in entertainments, and in their lives the darkness overcomes the light.
Walking in the light means that we must expose their works of darkness. For those who are more mature Christians, we must stand beside those flirting with darkness and expose the darkness. An interesting thing happens when light meets dark, even when the dark is menacing and intimidating: the light drives away the darkness.
Too often we find ourselves drifting into the darkness, and the reason we do is because we have stopped walking with God and are walking with someone else. I remember one time when I was young we were in New York City walking together as a family. I followed my Mom so I wouldn’t get lost, and since she was wearing a beige skirt I kept my eyes focused on the beige skirt. When I finally looked up, my real family was 100 yards away, and I had been following the wrong beige skirt!
To walk with God we need one more thing: we need a destination. Where are we going on this walk with God? In verses 15-21, Paul reminds us to walk in wisdom.
I think a lot of us are like someone who was put in the middle of a desert and told to start walking, and so we walk because we’re supposed to. But we haven’t sought and found the map, the direction, for where we are to go. Even if someone gave us a map, we still wouldn’t know where to go because we wouldn’t know what our destination was supposed to be.
Our destination, our map, is to walk in wisdom, which means doing the will of God, for this is the destination, the goal of our walk. St. Paul gives us 3 ways to walk in wisdom: we should redeem the time (verse 16), discern the will of God (verse 17), and be filled not with spirits but with the Holy Spirit (verse 18.) There is so much that could be said about each one of these, but it’s up to you to learn, in wisdom, how to apply each.
In the early chapters of Genesis, it appears as if it were the custom for God to walk in the cool of the day with Adam, before he fell. In Genesis Chapter 5, we read of righteous Enoch, who “walked with God” and walked so faithfully that he was translated into heaven and did not even see death!
This is the way I want to walk in my life: to walk so closely with God in His love, in His light, and in His wisdom, that I am translated into heaven because heaven is being in His presence.
Prayer: Father, teach me to walk with You by walking with You in love. Give me a desire to be with You and to love as You have loved me. Keep me in Your light and fill me with Your wisdom that in all things I may dwell in Your presence all the days of my life. Amen.
Point for Meditation:
Meditate on and apply Paul’s command to walk in wisdom in one of the 3 ways which Paul discusses.
1. How can you “redeem the time” in your life? What are the time-wasters in your life? Are there opportunities to walk with God by serving Him that You have not been taking?
2. Have you spent adequate time discerning the will of the Lord? In what area or areas of your life should you be seeking God’s will more actively?
3. How can you be more filled with the Spirit by engaging in speaking to others with spiritual songs, by making a melody in your heart to the Lord, or by giving thanks?
Resolution: I resolve to seek to walk with God today. In particular, I resolve to find one way to practice walking in love, light, or wisdom. You might want to relate this resolution to the specific things God has been asking You to do lately.
© 2012 Fr. Charles Erlandson