“Walk” is an often used analogy for the Christian life. We talk about walking with Jesus and sing about walking in the light. Sometimes it becomes a sort of cute religious-speak phrase, using “walk of faith” as a metaphor for living as a Christian. But it’s also a description of a serious commitment. Two can’t walk together unless they’ve met and agreed to the walk (Amos 3:3). Walking in the Christian way means meeting and getting to know God, then agreeing to faithfully, absolutely follow the words and example of Jesus.
Closely related to walking is the notion of having a way of life. There’s a right way and many wrong ways to live, and those two options are described in the Bible as different “ways” (i.e. paths) where we can walk. This concept is so important that Christianity was called the Way throughout much of Acts (Acts 9:2; 16:17; 18:25-26; 19:9, 23; 22:4; 24:14, 22).
Two Ways to Walk
Early in His ministry, Jesus talked about these two ways in His sermon on the Mount. As He offered reconciliation and relationship with God to humanity, He also laid out what God expects from people who want those things. We need to actively seek Him and choose to walk in His ways.
Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the way that leads to life, and there are few who find it!Matt. 7:13-14, NET
This passage puts me in mind of one from Isaiah that counsels readers to “Seek the Lord while he makes himself available” (Is. 55:6, NET). There’s a sense of urgency here, urging us not to get distracted but to focus on seeking God now. Thankfully for us, He does a lot to make Himself accessible. Unfortunately, many people don’t find the way of life; they walked right by it even when Jesus was walking among them personally.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, except through me. If you have known me, you will know my Father too. And from now on you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father, and we will be content.”
Jesus replied, “Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in me?”John 14:6-10, WEB
This conversation took place a few years after the sermon we just quoted, at His last Passover with His disciples. Here, Jesus got more specific about how to find the Way. He’s the one true Way to a relationship with the Father, and therefore to eternal life (John 17:3, see also Heb. 10:19-21). It’s not a complicated idea, but even so “there are few who find” the narrow way to life. Even the disciples like Philip took a long time to understand how this worked.
Walking with Jesus, Like Jesus
The ones who do find the Way and start down that path to eternal life begin a walk with Jesus that’s meant to be life-long. As John says, “he who says he remains in him ought himself also to walk just like he walked” (1 John 2:6, WEB). We want to be like the people Jesus talks about in the letter to Sardis who “didn’t defile their garments” and “will walk with me in white, for they are worthy” (Rev. 3:4, WEB). Jesus empowers us to walk with Him and in Him, as God has done with people throughout human history who respond to His call.
“I will strengthen them in Yahweh;Zechariah 10:12, WEB
and they will walk up and down in his name,” says Yahweh.
For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will live in them and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”2 Corinthians 6:16, NET, referencing Lev. 26:12; and Ezk. 37:27
God wants to walk with us. He wants a relationship as we live our lives according to His ways. This is something He’s always wanted to have with His people, and accomplishing the reconciliation that makes such a walk possible is one reason Jesus came and died for our sins. We’re made holy so that we can walk with God, in the name of God.
How To Walk
So far, we’ve spoken in general terms about walking with God. We know this means walking in His ways and walking with Jesus. This gives us a pattern to follow–our walk imitates the way Jesus walked. The Bible also gives more specific instructions for how to walk which can help us understand exactly what walking like Jesus means in our day-to-day lives.
Walking in the light is the type of walk that shows up most often in scripture. Psalm 119:105 praises the Lord saying, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light for my path” (WEB). Isaiah calls for people to “come, and let’s walk in the light of Yahweh” (Is. 2:5, WEB). He also prophesied Jesus coming as a Light to the world (Is. 9:2); a title Jesus connected with our ability to walk in the light rather than in darkness (John 8:12; 11:9-10; 12:35). Similarly, Paul instructs us to “Walk as children of light” because the Lord has called us out of darkness (Eph. 5:8, WEB). God’s word is a light to show us the right way to walk. He Himself is also Light, and that’s supposed to show up in how we walk as well.
If we say we have fellowship with him and yet keep on walking in the darkness, we are lying and not practicing the truth. But if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.1 John 1:6-7, NET
Closely related to walking in the Light is the notion of walking with integrity. In this section, I’ve also included passages that tell us to walk with uprightness and to walk in the Lord’s commands since those ideas are so connected. Psalms and Proverbs highlight this idea more than any other section of the Bible (Ps. 101:2, 6; 119:35; Prov. 4:14; 8:20; 14:2; 19:1; 28:6, 18, 26). Walking with a mindfulness of the Lord’s commands and a commitment to doing the best we can to follow Jesus’s perfect example of blameless integrity is key to our ongoing Christian walk.
(Now this is love: that we walk according to his commandments.) This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning; thus you should walk in it.2 John 1:6, NET
In the spirit
For New Testament believers, walking in the Light and following the commands of God with integrity also involves walking in the spirit. We’re to keep the law not with a rote, outward sort of obedience but with obedience that comes out of a heart changed by the Spirit of God working in us. It’s a fulfilment of prophecies where the Lord said, “I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes” (Ezk. 36:26-27, WEB). Now, those who belong to Jesus walk in the Spirit (2 Cor. 12:17-18; Gal. 5:16-17, 24-25).
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who don’t walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death. For what the law couldn’t do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God did, sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh; that the ordinance of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.Rom. 8:1-4, WEB
As we walk in the Light and in the Spirit, keeping God’s word with integrity, His character traits become more and more a part of us. One of those most important character traits is love (1 John 4:8, 16), and so it’s not surprising to find that love is the most excellent way to walk (1 Cor. 12:31-13:13). It involves walking according to His commandments (Deut. 10:12-13; 2 John 1:6) and it’s preeminent among other instructions such as putting on compassion, kindness, and humility (Col. 3:12-17).
Be therefore imitators of God, as beloved children. Walk in love, even as Christ also loved us and gave himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling fragrance.Ephesians 5:1-2, WEB
Walking Fearlessly with God
There’s one final thing I want to mention about walking with God. When we’re walking in God’s ways, it affects not only the way we live our lives but also the way we experience life. There’s power, security, and peace that comes along with walking in the ways of the Lord even if we’re “walking” through physical dangers (Ps. 138:7; Is. 40:31).
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,Psalm 23:4, WEB
I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you,Isaiah 43:2, WEB
and through the rivers, they will not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned,
and flame will not scorch you.
When we’re walking with God, we can walk without fear no matter what’s going on in the world around us. We can walk knowing that He is traveling alongside us. We can walk with strength to face whatever comes, as well as wisdom, integrity, love, and light. Walking in the Way of God benefits us in incredible ways that reach beyond this life we’re living right now.
Featured image by SplitShire from Pixabay
Song Recommendation: “Walk in the Light” Ted Pearce