Last Sunday we began talking about walking with God. The Apostle John says that, in Christ, we have the ability to have fellowship with God, and to walk with him. These two images are deeply personal and intimate. (Anyone who has happened to be walking too close to a stranger knows how connected the two ideas can be.) This Sunday’s sermon text will again use the language of walking with God.
Because of this, I wanted to expand on a few things we have to keep in mind when walking with God.
On the one side, we have to realize that God is the one setting the pace and planning the trip. In the book of Acts, we find a story where the Apostle Peter in his own mind has set the pace for the expansion of the Kingdom. He had decided to accept ceremonially unclean Jews (like the Simon the Tanner would have almost certainly have been), but saw gentiles as too far gone. While he is at Simon’s house, he sees a vision where God lower down a banquet of food out of heaven, full of items that would have been considered off limits in the Old Testament. Peter refuses to eat any of the food which God himself has prepared for Peter. He says to Peter, “Don’t call un-pure what I have said is pure.” Finally, after this happens three times, God gets Peter to see that God has made a turn in how he interacts with his people. What we have to take from this story is that when we walk with God we have to do so with flexibility.
If I can be honest. I hate this part. I’d much rather prefer to be in charge. I want to slow down, when I want to slow down. I want turn when I want to turn. Its akin to saying I want to steer my car when, in fact, I’m on God’s train.
The second thing that we have to consider when we travel with God comes from the book of Revelation. In that book, there is the image used of Jesus as a king riding into battle vanquishing his enemies. The passage says that Jesus is single-handedly winning the Spiritual war which entangles the cosmos. Behind him rides his people. (Before anyone you get the wrong idea remember the words of Paul, we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the spiritual forces of evil)
Now consider the image just a little closer: who is out front winning the battle? Jesus.
And what are his people doing? Well, they are riding.
We can take from this image two ideas. First, Jesus is out front. He has said elsewhere, “I will build my church.” So, we can’t fall into the trap of thinking that we are on the front lines. The second thing that we learn, and almost by accident, is that we are called to follow him and to not simply stay in bed. Think about the image again, Jesus is riding ahead and he is winning the conflict, but his people are still obediently riding behind him. Even though they aren’t the ones doing the fight. If I were in this situation I might be tempted to say, “Jesus if you’re the only one fighting then why do I have to get suited up for combat? Can’t I just stay here?” This teaches us that part of walking with God is keeping pace with him as he leads us.
I pray that as you go about your daily lives that you would be willing to keep pace with Jesus, turning when he turns never willing to simply sit in camp while he is on the move.