The Bible says Enoch "walked with God" (Genesis 5:22-24). He's probably the most famous man to have done so, because it's one of the few things we know about him. His dad's name was Jared. When Enoch was 65 years old he had a son named Methuselah. After that, he had other sons and daughters for 300 more years. (Crazy, right?) Then God took him. Oh, and twice it says he "walked with God." So there's that.
But Enoch is not the only one to have walked with God. Noah also walked with God (Genesis 6:9). So did Levi (Malachi 2:6). In Leviticus 26:12, God told his people that he would walk with them and be their God. In fact, Micah instructs us that man is required to walk with God (Micah 6:8). Is this instruction the same one that Abraham received when he was told to walk before God and be blameless (Genesis 17:1)? How is walking with God related to the many verses that instruct us to walk in God's ways?
When we look at the picture painted with the words, "walk with God," we get a sense that this is a relationship. It's two people journeying together in peace. It is for this reason that Christians often call their relationship with God 'a walk.' "How's your walk with Jesus" you might be asked.
Walking in the way of the Lord on the other hand, is a picture of walking in the precepts and commands of God. God lays out a good path and we are expected to walk that path. That's more about obedience. While these two are not the same, you can't have the former without the latter.
Jesus provides us with some further instruction for our walk. But in his typical fashion, Jesus expresses this picture slightly differently. Rather than looking at two people journeying down the path together, he fuses the two and adds some intensity. Instead of asking, "how's your walk," Jesus asks, "how are you doing abiding in me?" He tells of a total dependence.
Take a look at John 15:1-11. Jesus uses the illustration of the vine and the branches . He is the vine (think trunk) and his people are branches. The branch doesn't do anything without the vine. In fact, we are incapable of accomplishing anything without Jesus. But notice what we get if we hold on tightly to the vine:
- We get to bare fruit (John 15:5)
- Our prayer and communion with God is better (John 15:7)
- We bring God glory (John 15:8)
- We get proof that we are disciples of Jesus (John 15:8)
- We get Jesus' love (John 15:9)
- We will be better suited to keep Christ's commandments (John 15:10)
- We will have Jesus' joy in us to the fullest (John 15:11).
(There's more if you keep reading. The best is that we get to be friends with Jesus in John 15:15!)
The alternative to abiding in Jesus is to not abide in him. What happens when we do not abide in Jesus? "If anyone does not abide in me," says the True Vine, "he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned (John 15:6).
The Christian life is one of abiding. It is one of walking in unity. Jesus desires his people to walk with him in a relationship.
Thinking about what this might look like, let's try something. Imagine Jesus were like all your other friends (only not sinful). He has a car, a cell phone, and a Facebook profile. How often do you hang out with him? How often to you share good news, complain, ask for advice, or just chat? Do you listen or just talk about yourself? Does he get text messages from you? Do you answer his calls? Is Jesus your first priority when it comes to how you spend your time, or do you put him off until the last minute just incase something better comes along? Do you try keep secrets from him? Might you act one way when you're with him and another when you're not? When you and Jesus are headed somewhere, are you a backseat driver? Do you hang out with Jesus' friends? Do you trust him? When you go to his house do you lend a hand, or do you just eat his food and run? What does your relationship with your friend (if he is your friend) look like? Honestly?
If you struggle with the above questions, it is only going to be more difficult when you see that this relationship is more significant than any other relationship you will ever have. How are you doing abiding in Jesus? How's your walk with Jesus lately?
I pray you have a good discussion in your House Fellowships this week and I look forward to examining this in more detail on Sunday, May 17th at 11:00am at the Northwest Community Center.
Soli Deo gloria!