Walking with God

Scroll this

[dropcap3]O[/dropcap3]ne of the most common words in any language is the word “walk”. In the languages that I have studied this was usually one of the first words a student learned because of its frequency. This may be due to the fact that most of human daily activity involves walking. It is also noteworthy that for most of human history people walked from place to place and from town to town, usually on well-worn paths. We can see this when there are unfortunate events causing masses of people to flee their homes as refugees on foot. It is no wonder then that the Bible adopts the word “walk” as a common metaphor for our daily behavior and as a general summation of our whole life. The metaphor is one that a reader from any culture or time can easily grasp. It is a basic fact of the reality God has created, and we find it at the beginning of Scripture.

In the Garden of Eden the Lord laid out a path for the man and the woman to walk on as He walked in the midst of the Garden with them. One of the first pictures of our relationship with God is that we walk together with Him (Gen. 3:8). Even after the fall and their exile from the Garden, the righteous could still walk with God. Enoch and Noah walked with God which, in their case, was a general description of their life lived before God (Gen. 5:22; 6:9). Other Scriptures point out that in our walk with God, He is present as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Ps. 23:4), He is our shepherd who provides for us on the way (Ps. 23:1), and He is our power in our trials and struggles (ex., Israel’s walk through the Red Sea and around the walls of Jericho). To abandon Him is to become a beggar and wanderer on the earth like Cain (Gen. 4:14).

Not only do the righteous walk with God, but they are instructed to walk in His ways, in contrast to ways that are opposed to His will. Israel was to walk in the Lord’s statutes, not the statutes of the nations (Lev. 18:2-5); they were walk after the Lord not after foreign gods. The kings of Judah were to follow after David, not after Jeroboam of Israel, because David was a man who walked after the Lord’s heart. The book of Proverbs describes the two paths a person can walk in – a path of wisdom and a path of folly. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus speaks about the wide road that leads to destruction and the narrow road that leads to life, and then concludes His sermon by essentially calling Himself the narrow way (Mt. 7:13-14). In John’s gospel and letters, he speaks of walking in the light as opposed to the darkness. Paul speaks of walking in the Spirit and not the flesh (Gal. 5:16-18). To walk with God in His way is the road less traveled; it is a different path.

Walk With GodWhat are some implications for our journey with God? First, we believe that the Word of God is the center of all life and learning. It is not just for our worship on Sundays, for our times of meditation and prayer, or for Bible classes. The whole of life is centered on the Word in Scripture and the Word incarnate, whatever we do, even eating and drinking (1 Cor. 10:31). Each step of our way with God is paved with the Scriptures and so we are careful how we walk (Eph. 5:15). Second, a biblical anthropology should shape how we view our walk with God on earth. The scene in the Garden of Eden is an excellent portrait of the Christian family, church, or school. It is a special place set apart for humans to live together, learn, and explore the world God made, while walking with Him in His commandments. Our beliefs and practices concerning this journey with God need to seriously consider the positive significance of the body and the importance of place. Our Western tradition is detrimental to our understanding of this significance. Plato has left us with the notion that the body is a hindrance in the pursuit of truth. Descartes’ notion that a person is merely a thinking thing diminishes the biblical idea of human beings made in the image of God embodied and embedded together. Paul tells us that we will receive our due for the things done in the body, whether good or bad (2 Corinthians 5:10). We tend not to take into consideration that our faithful service to the Lord is accomplished in our bodies. The only way we walk on earth with God is in a body. It is a good gift and with it acceptable service to Him is performed (Rom. 12:1). Third, the idea of a different path should encourage us to think creatively and not to fear asking new questions or seeking new solutions. All we have to do is review how Jesus handled the questions and issues of His day with people marveling because His teaching was so revolutionary. More precisely, Jesus’ words and works were not revolutionary; He was walking with God in His ways. Just as we have received the Lord Jesus, let us then walk in Him (Col. 2:6).

Brian G. Toews, Ph.D., is the Senior Vice President and Provost. He has been a member of the PBU faculty since 1993. You can interact with him on his PBU blog.