Tuesday, June 02, 2009

A Long Walk in the Same Direction

Long walks take time, effort and sacrifice. When you throw in another person or more, the challenge gets more difficult. Long walks with others often invoke strong conversation and we have some good examples in the Scriptures. In the beginning, Adam took walks with God in the cool of the evening in the garden of Eden and you can bet Adam learned a lot. Abraham began a long walk with his close friends and family and they didn't know where they were headed but they learned to trust God. Moses had a long walk of 40 years in the wilderness with his family and God used it to shape Moses and the people of Israel. Jesus walked with His twelve disciples for three and a half years and we know of many of those talks and how profound they were in impacting the world. Long walks with others is a good way to look at how God develops people to become more like He is.
Taking a long walk in the same direction (towards Jesus) with good friends is a good way to describe discipleship. For too long discipleship has been reduced to books, studies and filling in the blanks. Knowledge and completing classes has been used to measure ones maturity but it is incomplete. Knowledge is necessary but applying what you know is learning and learning to be like Jesus can only be done in relationship. I can say this because we are made in God's image and God choses to exist in a community of three; The Father, Son and Holy Spirit. What I learn from this is that living in community with a few for a long time is possibly the best way to encourage each other, and so much the more, as we see the day of the Lord drawing near (Hebrews 10:24-25). Paul is strong about living our faith in community and influencing others towards Jesus. He strongly encourages taking life long walks (or at least a significant amount of time) with others. Learning from one another's mistakes and success' seems important to him. As we read about Paul, we rarely see him moving about in isolation. He is most often with a team of people who are laboring together to get the message of Jesus out to folks whether he is teaching in synagogues or sewing tents together to sale. Here is how he encouraged Timothy who was serving the churches in Ephesus. "Now flee from youthful lusts and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart." 2 Timothy 2:22 (emphasis mine) I know that taking long walks with others in inconvenient, they robs us of our personal time and space and intrude upon the privacy of our lives that is often highly valued by the western culture. But without long walks, strong conversations and mutual encouragement in the things of Jesus, I'm afraid we will not actually be helping people become like Jesus. And that is a key thing that He asked us to do - to make disciples by taking long walks in the same direction. Are you taking a long walk in the same direction with anyone?