Walk This Way: Like Jesus

“Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did.” (1 John 2:6)

What if a perfectly healthy 28-year-old guy had never walked in his whole life – not because he couldn’t, just because he never felt like it? He never got around to it. Maybe someday when he’s older.

walk_350Guess what? That never happens. Human babies who can walk always do eventually. If they don’t, they’re not healthy. Something is wrong that needs fixing.

But I know some Christians who think it’s perfectly normal not to walk in the way of Jesus. They seem to think you can be a healthy Christian without ever moving your spiritual legs, without ever getting up and following after Jesus. Guess what? Healthy Christians always walk – unless there’s something seriously wrong. (We might fall down a lot, but that’s because we’re walking in the first place.)

We’re going to talk for the next week or two about what we should expect to see our spiritual legs doing as we grow up in Christ. Where should these wobbly new legs be taking us? What should be different about us than if we were not Christians, at all? Come back tomorrow.

Think: What does the idea of walking as Jesus did mean to you? Do you expect to see yourself walking more and more like him as you grow as a Christian?

Pray: Ask God to help you to understand what it means to walk as Jesus did – and then ask him to help you to continue to do that.

Do: If you want to read ahead, check out Romans 12:9-21 to see what kind of hiking we’ll be talking about for the next two weeks.

Walk This Way: Hate Love Cling

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)

Christian teachers are always talking about “following Jesus” and “walking in the Spirit” and staying on the “path of God.” We know what they mean, kind of, but what does that look like outside of the metaphor? What do you actually do when you are “walking in the footsteps of Jesus”?

walk_350Romans 12 is here to clue us in this week.

1) Don’t fake-love anyone. Don’t act nice or be extra polite and call that love. Jesus-walkers love like Jesus did. He wasn’t always nice, but he came to serve, give, die. (See 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 for a full definition.)

2) Hate evil. We’re not talking about super-villains with maniacal laughs. Evil includes everything that is against God. This isn’t about people; it’s about sin. Jesus-walkers learn to hate sin instead of loving it, including their own.

3) Bear hug what is good. Don’t let it go. Good is anything that is from God or for God or in service of God. Jesus-walkers don’t just shake hands with good; they embrace it.

Think: Why is it so hard to hate our sin? What helps us to hate it better? What good in your life could you be holding on to more tightly?

Pray: Ask God to help you to love sincerely, to hate what is evil, and to cling to what is good.

Do: Even if you’ve read it a million times before, give 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 a slow, thoughtful once-over.

Walk This Way: After You

“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.” (Romans 12:10)

Have you ever gone on a long hike with a group of people? It’s not always easy to do. If each of you were walking the trail on your own, you’d all walk at very different paces. Some would stroll. Others would almost jog. But when you walk together, everyone adjusts – or divides.

walk_350To live as Jesus does, to live as a true Christian, means to say, “I’m going to give up the right to set the pace for my own life.” It means being willing to slow down or speed up to meet the needs of brothers and sisters from different mothers but the same Father.

It’s hard to do.

To get specific, this devotion to family means more than just being willing to show up when there’s trouble. It means being willing to treat other believers like they outrank me, like we’re not equals. It’s means I’m willing to talk about what they want to talk about, to listen to their music, to go to their restaurant, to wait, to adjust, to help, to defer, to die.

If we all do it, it’s beautiful. It’s the point of church. If I’m the only one doing it, it’s beautiful. It’s the path of Jesus.

Think: How did Jesus honor others above himself? How do you?

Pray: Ask God to help you to be devoted to other Christians in brotherly love and to honor them above yourself.

Do: Write a quick list of three Christians who really seem to honor you above themselves.

Walk This Way: Feel It

“Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)

Have you noticed, lately, that a lot of people are bad-mouthing cynicism? It’s not as popular as it once was – or will likely be again. (See what I did there.)

walk_350I know long-time Christians sometimes get cynical about the church and the state of Christianity. I don’t think the Bible teaches that we should never question each other’s motives. But walking like Jesus doesn’t leave room for indulging in cynicism about the path we’re on.

Cynicism sometimes leads to funny jokes, but it also kills joy. It makes us feel smart for protecting ourselves from dashed hopes, but it also keeps us from hoping without reservation in the power of God in us to do his work in his time.

God is asking us to walk with intentional enthusiasm, to stay emotionally invested in living for Jesus, to find an authentic excitement about serving God today.

Think: Do you think it’s right for God to tell us what to feel while serving him? Do you think it’s right for a coach to expect an athlete to be “up” for a game, to have the intensity needed to play his or her best? Are those similar ideas?

Pray: Ask God to help you to never be lacking in zeal, but to keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.

Do: Make a quick list of three of the most genuinely enthusiastic and motivated Christians you know.

Walk This Way: Hope Pain Prayer

“Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” (Romans 12:12)

It’s easy – and pointless – to define being a Christian by what we don’t do. Lots of religions say we should save sex for marriage and skip the drugs, porn, alcohol, and being mean. That doesn’t make you a Christian.

walk_350To walk like Jesus, to live as a follower of Christ, has way more to do with what we actually do than with what we don’t do. We’re looking at specific examples of that this week.

Today: Real Christians hope! That means we keep expecting God to come through, we expect to be with him in eternity forever. And it matters enough to us to make us joyful.

Real Christians hurt. Okay, everyone hurts. But Jesus-followers imitate him by being patient when they hurt, not surprised, not feeling betrayed, not angry – patient as we wait for God to help.

Real Christians pray. And then pray again tomorrow.

Following Jesus is harder – and way better – than just not looking at porn or not getting drunk.

Think: Which are you most consistent at – being joyful in hope, patient in affliction, or faithful in prayer? What can you do this week to do more of that?

Pray: Ask God to help you to be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.

Do: Keep an eye on the Christians in your life. Look for example of joyfulness in hope, patience in affliction, and faithfulness in prayer.

Walk This Way: Share

“Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.” (Romans 12:13)

This list from Romans 12 describes how Christians live, how we follow after Jesus in all kind of practical ways. What’s amazing about this list is that it doesn’t explain anything. It’s just one short, punchy command after another.

walk_350What does it mean for someone to be “in need”? What about needy people who are not Christians? How much of my money or food or stuff should I share? What if I’m not good at hospitality? What if I don’t feel comfortable with people in my house or car or heart? What if I don’t have a house or a car?

No answers; just do it.

It’s a human trait to make things more complicated than they have to be. If you know of a Christian in need, share with them. Find a way to use your life and possessions to make other people feel at home. Thats’ what Christians do. Period.

Think: Do you know any of God’s people who are in need? What do you have that you could share with them? How soon could you make that happen?

Pray: Ask God to help you to share with God’s people who are in need and to practice hospitality.

Do: Notice some Christians in your life who practice hospitality really well and what difference it makes for those who receive it.

Walk This Way: Bless Your Persecuters

“Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.” (Romans 12:14)

Did you just feel the degree of difficulty go up a notch on this list of things Jesus-followers do?

walk_350Until this one, everything we’ve covered has been easy to agree with even if you don’t necessarily plan on doing it. Just imagining yourself doing them makes you feel pretty good.

But this one is personal. I imagine myself doing this one, and I feel pretty bad about it. Blessing would be exactly last on my instinctive list of things to do if someone persecuted me. It would come after “ducking,” “persecuting back,” “leaving town for the good of my family,” “explaining what the persecutor obviously doesn’t understand,” and “hiding in a hole.”

Following Jesus is hard. His path led through betrayal, torture, and a public, brutal death on a cross – where he forgave those who were persecuting him. This is what Christians do.

Think: Over the centuries, some people have read this verse while in the middle of violent persecution for their faith in Jesus. Do you think being in that place would make it harder or easier to imagine imitating Jesus and obeying this command?

Pray: Ask God to help you to bless those who persecute you, to bless and not to curse.

Do: Read Matthew 5 and notice everything Jesus says about people who are persecuted.