As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, (Colossians 2:6)
What a wonderful analogy is contained in today’s verse. Walking is something we do every day. It’s quite possibly the least thought about activity in our daily routine and living – walk through the house, to the car, to the office, to the canteen. If we need to get from A to B, we walk. We don’t consciously tell ourselves that we’re now going to stand up, move the right leg, move the left leg, and repeat the process until we reach the kitchen. It’s involuntary, most of the time anyway. It’s only where there’s some degree of stress or difficulty involved that we have to ‘will ourselves’ to put one foot in front of the other and keep going.
This illustration fits perfectly with the spiritual walk God intends for us. His desire is that we should be so ‘in Christ’ that our walk becomes instinctual, a natural outworking of the life that is working within us. The walk should be the result of the relationship, much like physical walking is governed by entirely involuntary stimulation. We don’t have to think about it. We simply do it.
Think about a child learning to walk. The are prompted to this by a deep inner drive. We don’t directly teach them or tell them that they now have to learn to walk. There is an instinct within that gets them going and leads them to the discovery of each new skill that makes walking possible. It’s natural, logical and effective, and it’s entirely involutary. The parallel between our physical and spiritual walks continues, and there are a number of significant truths that apply.
Firstly, walk always involves action. It is never static or stationery. While it is equally important to rest as it is to walk, I’ve always believed that resting is in fact an intrinsic part of walking. We don’t rest for rest’s sake. We rest to renew and prepare ourselves to walk. Just as walking involves moving one leg and then the other, it also requires times to rest. Rest always takes place within the context of action – we rest from something to prepare for something. Even resting, then, is part of the activity of walking. Resting is as much an action as walking because they are part of the same thing.
Secondly, walking always has direction. Even a peaceful Sunday stroll has a destination in mind. To the park, home from the park, down to the river…we never simply stand up and walk in no particular direction at all. While the action may be involuntary, the direction is never arbitrary. Direction is the voluntary control of the involuntary action. In our spiritual walk, Jesus – and all the things He gives us and calls us to – is our direction. He is the way that our walk is meant to follow.
Thirdly, walking is always motivated by purpose. Every direction contains an underlying purpose. We walk, for example, in the direction of the corner store, but it’s for the purpose of purchasing milk. Or the purpose may simply be to get some exercise, or to clear our heads after being stuck indoors. So while a direction may remain the same, the purpose may vary. Three people may walk in the same direction – to the staff kitchen at work. One’s purpose is to put the kettle on, the second goes for a glass of water and the third goes to retrieve their lunch. Same direction, different purpose. What’s significant for us spritually is that the walk does not determine the purpose. Our purpose resides in Christ. He is the head, we the body, and He decides.
Finally, while the action of walking is involuntary, the act of walking is entirely volutary. We can decide whether to walk or not. I may wish to go to the library but don’t have transport. It’s a long walk but quite manageable, even though it’s hot enough to make it a little uncomfortable and a bit of a challenge. That’s the point of choice. Do I want the book badly enough to make the effort? I have the right shoes, I have suitable clothes, I know the best route and I can be sensible and go at the best time of day. It’s not a marathon, it just requires effort. Is the gain worth the input?
This is the place of ‘me’ which is always the place of conlict with Christ. I may know that I really need that book in order to finish a critical project. Or maybe I need to return a book today to avoid incurring an overdue fine. The circumstances or importance of something may affect the outcome by influencing our choices, but they never determine our decisions. We decide what we will and will not do. We choose how far we are prepared to go in Christ and how much we’re prepared to put into the journey.
It is an infinite gift of grace that our walk is never alone. We may feel alone, particularly in a rough or difficult patch with the heat turned up, or the icy winter winds howling around our ears. Today’s verse makes it very clear that we have two things that are always available in our journey.
First, we have been given Christ. He is a free gift, one that cannot be earned or deserved, and He is the ‘complete and perfect package.’ Everything that we need, anywhere, any time, in any situation is totally available in the all-encompassing provision that is Jesus. He has already done it, and He is able to provide everything necessary to empower us to walk where He leads, good or bad.
Second, we are to walk in Him. This is remarkable – rather like one of those space suits the astronauts wear to enable them to walk in space. God does not intend us to walk beside Jesus or behind Him, or follow along half a mile behind. He intends that we go from following Him to walking in Him. We choose to follow Him at salvation but walk in Him from then on. Jesus is not intended to be a separate presence. It’s a relationship of complete immersion. Think of that space suit again – it’s set to regulate temperature, pressure and environmental factors that affect the wearer. It protects, enables, equips and sustains.
Jesus offers so much more. His provision is pefect power, a supernatural release of His own nature and life. We so often think of His power as being big miracles and signs and wonders, but perhaps the greatest manifestation can be found in the daily provision, the grace of moment by moment. The joy of this is that Jesus is not something we put on. He is something we become inextricably connected to.
Verse 7 goes on to talk of being rooted and built up and established in Christ. This is such a vivid confirmation that He and I are not two separate identities doing something together. When we choose to follow Jesus, we are immediately grafted in. Grafting literally means that a living twig is inserted into another step so that the tissues grow together and become one. Jesus is the stem and the root, we bear the fruit. Where He goes we must go. Where we go, He is always there.
The concept entirely precludes separation. Some grafts are tenuous, because the new tissue does not bond properly with the support. These obviously don’t last. The strong plant remains, but the new graft falls away. The lesson is clear – our part is to bond totally and completely with Him. This literally means immersing our individual identity in Him. Grafting in means that the graft becomes a part of the host plant. We’re no longer separate and identifiable apart from Him. He is us and we are Him.
Walking in Christ is walking by Christ, at His direction and in total obedience to His purpose. Our legs, His will. But we do have the total and absolue assurance that He is there – with us, in us, around us, part of us, through us – every step of the way.
Thank You, Lord, for Your perfect plan, and for providing everything we need in Jesus. We marvel at Your patience and Your grace, at how You teach us daily, step by step, and bring us into a deeper and stronger connection with the life that is in You alone. Help us to the place of surrender through each moment. Remind us that You are there and You are everything, and that in You alone lies the direction and purpose for every step we take in this journey of walking with You.