Tag Archives: walk

Walk in Discipleship

walkFor the last three weeks, we have been exploring the idea of walking, or how we live our lives. We have looked at the call to walk in unity, the call to walk as a prisoner of Jesus and how we can walk in a way that helps us remember who we are and who God is. As we close out this little series, I want to look at another “walk” passage: Colossians 2:6-7. These two little verses, written by the Apostle Paul, help us see the stepping stones of walking in discipleship.

About two years ago, I wrote a short e-book on how this passage can be used as a template in the process of discipleship. If you lead others in discipleship in some way, I think it might be useful to you.

Download the PDF- Benchmarks.

 

Walk: How to Remember

I left last week’s post by asking the question, why do we forget? We looked at Paul’s call to live lives as prisoners of Jesus. But, whereas an inmate in a prison does not wake up one day and forget that they are a prisoner, I (and maybe you too) do forget (many times a day) that I am a prisoner, a slave, a bond-servant of Jesus.

Why do we forget? And what can we do to remember?

I mentioned in my previous post that one possible reason we forget is that, unlike an inmate in prison, we are not completely surrounded by reminders of our status as prisoners of Jesus. Literally everything in the life of a prisoner exists to remind them that they are not free and that they are under the control of the one to whom they are a prisoner. Is that idea something we can copy within our lives as followers of Jesus? Or would that take leaving our lives and our culture and moving into a monastery? Should we only listen to worship music and keep Fireproof in the DVD player? Are those the only ways to remember? I sure hope not.

So what do we do? Going back to the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, Paul devotes all of chapter 2 to our very question. We can summarize his thoughts in three main points.

1. Remember who you were. Paul calls us to remember who we used to be. We were dead, lived to the lusts of our flesh, we were children of wrath, we were separated from Christ, strangers and aliens. Remembering who we used to be should help us to remember that that’s not who we are anymore.

2. Remember what God is like. If we desire to be prisoners of Jesus and slaves to God, we should know what God is like. Paul tells us that God is rich in mercy and that he loves us with a great love. God is the one who has made us alive and has given us the riches of his grace and the very faith it takes to trust him. God is our peace, our cornerstone and the preparer of the good works we are able to walk in. Reflecting on those attributes of God should cause us to grow in our desire to serve, surrender and give God all of ourselves and all of our affections.

3. Remember what God has done for us. Here Paul dives into the heart of the gospel. God, in Jesus, has made us alive and raised us up to the place where Jesus is. Not only that but God has, through the cross, broken all the walls that separate us from God, given us hope and included us in the promise. We are now fellow citizens of God’s house and the very house/temple itself, through the church, as the dwelling place of God’s Spirit.

Based on Ephesians 2, remembering who we were, what God is like and what God has done for us, you and I may be able to better live a life worthy of the calling of Jesus on our lives. In this season of Lent, even if you have made a commitment to give up something, let’s make the commitment to add something- that being to read Ephesians 2 every opportunity we have between now and Easter.

Walk Like a Prisoner

Galatians isn’t the only place where Paul talks about the way we should walk (the way we live our lives) as followers of Jesus. In this post and in the following two, we will look at three other places where Paul urges us to live our lives in a certain way. We won’t exhaust every instance Paul tells us to walk but I think we will have enough to chew on.

There has been a movement in the last two decades or so to redefine Christianity, redefine being a follower of Jesus, apart from the strict set of “do’s” and “don’ts” that came to stand for Christian belief. One could argue that these rules stood more as metaphor and perception than actual reality but in most cases the perception is the reality. And Christianity was often refused to: “Don’t…..”

Overall, I think that the move to redefine following Jesus away from the “do’s” and “don’ts” is beneficial. Acknowledging that following Jesus is more than external ethics brings a fuller and more authentic understanding of the gospel. However, that does not mean that ethics cease to have a role within the way of life of a Jesus follower.

Unknown-1

In Ephesians 4:1-3 the Apostle Paul writes, “Therefore, I the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

There are a lot of interesting aspects within this thought of Paul. What I find most intriguing is the way Paul seems to casually throws in that he is a prisoner of The Lord. Why does Paul include this?

Paul knows what it means to be a prisoner- I don’t have a clue. I’ve seen depictions of prison on tv and in movies, I even went on a tour of a state prison as part of a college class but those are nowhere close to being a prisoner. But Paul seems to connect the fact that he is a prisoner of the Lord to his ability to implore the church to live a life worthy of the calling they have received from Jesus. Perhaps we can say that the life of a prisoner, a prisoner of the Lord, is the way of life that stands as worthy of the call.

That idea goes against all the ideas our culture tells us. We value freedom; freedom to say what we want, freedom to do what we want, freedom to make the choices we want. Prisoners don’t have freedom. They are fully under the control of the one they are a prisoner of.

We are called to be prisoners of the Lord, prisoners of Jesus. We aren’t prisoners of Jesus as a form of punishment but we are to be fully under the control of the one we are a prisoner to. Just like elsewhere Paul calls us to be slaves or bond-servants to Jesus. If each one of us remains under the authority of Jesus than we can see how we can show patience, tolerance and love toward one another and promote unity (here’s that idea again).

I know I’m not a very good prisoner, slave, bond-servant of Jesus. I want to go and do my own thing. Mostly though, I just forget. The thing is, if you are a prisoner or a slave, I don’t think you’d ever forget that. I don’t think that you could wake up one morning and just forget that you are a prisoner because everything around you is telling you that you are.

Why do I forget so easily then? Maybe it’s because everything around me reminds me that I’m my own boss. Perhaps you feel the same way. What are ways that we can continually remind ourselves of our identity as prisoners and slaves of Jesus? What are your thoughts?

 

Walk To Unity

walk

Last time we looked at the Apostle Paul’s observation in Galatians 6 that, within life, a person will reap what they sow. To say it another way, a person will harvest what they plant. Paul tells us to sow in the Spirit to reap the things of the Spirit which, as we saw last time, are what we lump together as the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness and self control.

This leads to the question, how do we sow in the Spirit to reap the things of the Spirit? Paul anticipates our question and tell us twice in Galatians 5 to “walk by the Spirit.”

“Thanks Paul”, the cynical side of me wants to say, “could you be any more ambiguous?”

Paul doesn’t give us “Walking by the Spirit 1-2-3” but he does give us a few descriptions within his letter to the Galatians. But first, what do we mean by “walk?” This is often one of the Christian-lingo sayings that makes little sense to those outside the Christian community. Walk simply means your way of life. When Paul says “walk by the Spirit” what he’s saying is “live a life marked by the Spirit.” What are the marks of a life lived by the Spirit?

Live a life marked by love. Throughout Galatians 5, Paul urges the church to love one another and not give into attitudes and theologies that attempt to divide the church. Paul even says, “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision [there were those in the church arguing that a person had to become a Jew- circumcised- in order to be a Jesus follower] means anything, but faith working through love” (Gal. 5: 6).

As we try to live a life marked by the Spirit, the first mark on our lives should be the mark of love to one another.

Live a life not marked by the flesh. The second mark of a life lived by the Spirit is a list of characteristics that stand in conflict to the characteristics of a life lived by the Spirit. I won’t re-write the list, you can read it yourself: Galatians 5:19-21. There are some attributes on the list that we probably don’t have to worry about (sorcery, for example) but what’s interesting about the list is that they deal with attitudes, actions, characteristics that cause division. Paul mentions things like jealousy, anger and envy which have the ability to cause major divisions between people.

As we try to live a life marked by the Spirit, the second mark on our lives should be the absent of characteristics that cause division.

Live a life marked by the fruits of Spirit. The third mark of a life lived by the Spirit is evidence of the fruit (the results) of the Spirit. Once again, you can read the list (Gal. 5: 22-23) and once again the fruits of the Spirit are those attributes that foster unity: love, patience, kindness, faithfulness- to name a few.

As we try to live a life marked by the Spirit, the third mark on our lives should be the cultivation of the characteristics that foster unity.

The main takeaway of this post is that a major indicator of a life marked by the Spirit is the working toward and preservation of unity. We have to ask ourselves, then, is the working toward and preservation of unity within the community of the church found in our lives? If wherever we go division seems to follow, that appears to be a good indication that we aren’t living a way of life marked by the Spirit.

It is important to note that unity does not mean uniformity. Followers of Jesus do not all need to the same in all practices and expressions. Paul calls followers of Jesus to be united in direction, united in love and united in living the fruits of the Spirit.

As we walk, let’s walk away from division and toward unity. Over the next few weeks we’ll continue to explore this idea of “walk” and our way of life.


If you like what you read, please choose to follow via email. Just click the follow button on the top, right hand side of the page and join those who have already followed to get new posts sent straight to your email.  Thanks for reading!