Walking as He Walked

December 29, 2013

How many people here walk? 
We all walk, sometimes we walk short distances, sometimes we walk long
distance but for the most part we all walk. 
It really isn’t rocket surgery. 
All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other.  And in case you have problems with that I
googled the word “Walking” and came up with 253,000,000 hits, knock yourself
out. One of the things that I tell people about the our church is “It’s close
enough to our home that I could walk, I don’t but I could”
In the scripture that Lisa read
this morning was the phrase 1 John 2:6 Those who say they live in God should live their lives as
Jesus did.

Now listen to how the NIV says it 1 John 2:6 Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus walked.  It’s one of those situations where the
New Living Translation is a little clearer but the New International Version
fits better with my message, so this morning we are looking at the topic
walking as he walked.

This particular passage is found in
the book of 1 John which is the 23rd book of the New Testament and
was written by John.  Which John? The
same John who wrote the Gospel  of John
and that is John the Apostle.  For once
and evermore this book was not written by John the Baptist it was written by
John the Apostle. 

It was written to the believers in the
area of Ephesus, which is in what we know as Turkey, to encourage and
strengthen them.  And as a part of his
letter he tells the believers to walk as Jesus walked.

But what exactly does that mean?  Does it mean to literally walk as Jesus
walked?  And if so what would that look
like?  People used to say that  I walked like the Great A&W Root Bear,
they don’t say that now but only because they don’t show the commercials any
more.  When we discovered that my Great
Great Grand-Mother was first Nations I decided that my traditional name would
be “Walks like Bear.” So if you walked like me you’d all walk like the Great A
& W Root bear.

And sometimes that is a problem.  You see it when folks decide to model themselves
and their Christian walk after “someone”, whether it be a high profile
Christian celebrity, a local pastor or just another Christian.  Things can go awry and you can end up with a
pretty silly walk.  (Ministry of Silly
Walks video)  There are some Christians
out there whose walk is not only silly it’s embarrassing, because they are
using the wrong example. 

And so John doesn’t tell people to
walk like him, or Paul or Peter instead we are told to walk like Jesus.  And we can probably safely assume that John
was not telling us to physically walk in the same manner as Jesus did, even if
we knew how Jesus walked.  Instead it is
a metaphor for Jesus’ life style how he lived in relation to God and how he
lived in relation to other people.  And
so we aren’t just supposed to listen to the words of Christ, we also need to look
at how he lived.  In other words it’s not
enough to hear Jesus talk the talk we need to also see how he walks the walk
and make sure as well that there are no inconsistencies with him also walking
the talk and talking the walk you still with me?

Sometimes it’s easy to say one thing
but living it isn’t always as easy

So, the question is this; if we walk
as Jesus walked where is it going to take us? 
Well I guess the answer is that it’s going to take us the same place it
took Jesus.  I’m sure you all heard the
joke about the young fellow who wanted to borrow the car and his dad said “you
can have the car when you get a haircut” to which the son replied “But Jesus had
long hair”  “Yes” said his father “and he
walked everywhere he went.” 

In 1896 a Youth Leader by the name of
Charles Sheldon wrote a story as a lesson for his youth group which he read to
his group as he wrote it, a chapter each week. Eventually it became the book
“In His Steps”.  The premise of the book
was that the people of The First Church of Raymond decided they would ask the
question “What would Jesus do” before they made any major decisions in their
lives.  The book chronicles the change
and impact that was made in their lives, work, church and town as a result of
their decision.  A few years ago the
message of the book had a bit of comeback and we saw the letters WWJD displayed
on clothes, bracelets and bumper stickers.

The reality is that we are
called to simply do it not to simply say it. 
Benjamin Franklin wrote “Well done, is better than well said.” And Jesus’
closest friend wrote in 1 Peter 2:21 For God called you to do good, even if it means suffering,
just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his
steps.

 So let’s see where Jesus’ steps led him and
consequently where our steps should lead us. 
Now it’s easy to put our own spin on what we think Jesus would do, how
he would walk and where his steps would lead. 
Often you will hear someone defending a view that is contrary to what
scripture teaches and uses the “Well I think that’s what Jesus would do or want
me to do.”  Seriously?

You have to wonder if they have
ever read Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:21? You know where it says:   Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone
who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those
who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter.

 Because we can’t
simply look deep inside of ourselves for answers like that we need to go to the
record, in this case that is the Gospel accounts.  And Jesus never condoned sin in fact he said
“Go and sin no more.”  So let’s take a look
at where Jesus’ walk led him.

His Steps Led Him to
God
.  I know that Jesus was God, I
hope that you know that Jesus was God, however when he was on earth he had set
limitations on himself physically and spiritually.  Even though he had created the body he
occupied it was still a physically body and so he needed food and drink to
sustain it and he needed rest to refresh it. 
Jesus did not come to earth as some kind of super human demi-god, he
came as a man with all of the temptations and limitations that men have and all
of the needs that men experience.
And part of what he needed to
sustain him was spiritual refreshment.  He
needed to spend time with God, for a couple of reasons.  First of all he needed the strength that only
God the father could provide.  Think
about the spiritual drain that was upon Jesus every day.  He was casting out demons, healing crippled
people, teaching crowds of people and trying to deal with the criticism that
came his way.  And he needed to tap into
the source in order to have something to give. 
If you fill a bucket with water, no matter how big the bucket is, and
you poke a hole in the bottom of the bucket to let the water escape, if you do
not continue to fill the bucket eventually it will be empty.  And Jesus knew that, he knew that he needed to
be refilling his spiritual bucket, so to speak. 
And that’s why we read scriptures like  Luke 6:12 One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray,
and he prayed to God all night.
 And Mark 1:35 Before daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out
to an isolated place to pray.

You see unlike most of us, Jesus didn’t think he could do
it alone, he knew that if he was going to make it through each day then he
needed the spiritual strength that he could only receive from the Father.

He also knew that if he was going to stay in the centre of
God’s will that he would have to remain in communication with God.  We live in a connected world, with phones and
text, twitter, facebook, linked’n Skype and facetime.  But we still have to make a conscious choice
to communicate with people.   If you never communicated with your boss how
would you know what they expected of you? If you never spoke to your spouse how
would you know when you were supposed to take the garbage out?

In the same way if we are going to walk in the steps of
Jesus they need to lead us to the Father and for the same reason as Jesus.  For our spiritual renewal, strength and
guidance.  And prayer is not just a good
idea, it is an expected part of the Christian experience.  If you are going to have a productive
Christian life it will be anchored in prayer. 
You can’t do it on your own and all you will prove by trying to is that
you can’t do it on your own. 

And there is nothing magical and mystical about
prayer.  Sometimes I hear well
intentioned believers say “I just can’t pray.” 
Why is that?  Is it because you
can’t talk?  After all prayer is simply
talking to God, telling Him you love Him, thanking Him for what He’s done for
you.  It’s simply conversing with him
about your daily life the way you would talk to a friend. 

His Steps Led Him to the
Redeemed  
Christ spent three years in
the company of like minded people.  These
were men and women who were seeking to know God better, seeking to know his
will and seeking to do his will. 
While we don’t know all of what happened during those three
years the majority of what we do know revolved around Jesus’ interaction with his
12 apostles and various other disciples. 
They shared a common belief system and similar moral guidelines, they
had common goals in life.  They were
together to learn from Jesus and also to encourage one another. 
Jesus didn’t allow himself to be influenced by ungodly
people, that wasn’t where he spent the majority of his social and recreational
time, it wasn’t where he received his affirmation.  His closest friends, the people he shared his
dreams and aspirations with, the people he laughed with and cried with, those
people were people committed to following God.
As you read through the Gospels
you see Jesus teaching large crowds, but then it says he left the crowd and
joined his disciples in a house, on a beach, sitting on a hill.  They ate together, they walked together, they
spent quality time together just talking and laughing.   Jesus knew that he couldn’t and shouldn’t
remove himself from the world, after all; the world is why he came, remember John 3:16 “For God loved
the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who
believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.
 But he knew that he
couldn’t get the refreshment and affirmation he needed from the world, and you
are thinking but point one was about the time he spent with God.  Yes but he also knew that there were times
that he needed more then God. 
Do I hear the collective gasps from the congregation? Is
that the sound of villagers gathering wood to burn the heretic at the stake?  Oh stop it.  There’s a story told about the little boy who
woke up in the middle of the thunder and lightening storm and came into his
parent’s bedroom wanting to spend the night with them.  His mother said “Let me pray that God will be
with you in your room.” To which he replied, “Yes but I want God with skin on
him.”  And now you are thinking cute
story Denn but how could Jesus or anyone else for that matter need more then
God, that’s why we used to sing the song “He is all I need, all I need”  and “All I need is Jesus.”
Let’s go back, way back, back to the beginning, which is
probably a pretty good place to go back to. 
God has created man, placed him in a beautiful garden in a perfect world
and had fellowship with him.  God and man
communed together.  That’s cool isn’t
it?  Isn’t that the dream of most Christ
followers, to be able to sit and have a chin wag face to face with God?
Then listen to what God says in
Genesis 2:18 Then
the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a
helper who is just right for him.”

 Did you catch
that?  It is not good for man to be
alone.  Now I would think that man wasn’t
alone, he was with God.  But obviously
God knew that there were some things that he couldn’t do for Adam.  We need each other, God knew that and that is
why he created each of us and that’s why Jesus steps led him to like minded
people.

And if we look into the book of
Acts to see what the early church and first Christ-followers looked like we
discover they spent a lot of time together. 
Verses like Acts 2:46 They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes
for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity—   would
indicate that they not only worshipped together but spent time together outside
of worship.

If we are to walk as Jesus walked then we need to be
spending time with other believers, and not just on Sunday Morning sharing a
cup of coffee and a cookie at the back. 
That’s not fellowship that’s hello-ship. 
Harvey McKay the Author of “Dig your well before you are Thirsty” a
business book about Networking says that we all should have at least one person
we can call at three o’clock
in the morning.  You know someone who
could drive you to the hospital, hold your hand in a tragedy or post your bail
if needed. I hope the person you would call would be in this church.   By the
way if someone from Cornerstone should call you at that time for help you’d
better help.

And you get to know people by spending time with them, at
the hello-ship time after the service, by joining a small group, by attending
social events, the pool party isn’t just about swimming and the Super Bowl
Party isn’t just about Football.   or just by inviting them to your place for a
BBQ or an evening of games.

But just because Jesus spent most of his time walking with
saints didn’t mean he ignored sinners. 
As a matter of fact you might remember that one of the charges laid
against Jesus was that he was a friend of sinners.  Imagine.

His Steps Led Him to
the Unredeemed.  
If some believers never hang around with believers others err by
never hanging around unbelievers. 
Remember that is what you once were and statistically speaking the only
reason you became a Christian was because a Christian befriended you and
invited you to church.

Before the apostles fit into the category of Christ followers
they fit into this category.  Jesus met
them where they were at and built relationships with them which lead to the
ultimate relationship.

He was criticized because of it
and his response is found in Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and save those who are lost.”

 So think about it,
if the one we claim to follow was concerned about those who didn’t know him
shouldn’t  those of us who follow him be
concerned about those who don’t know him? 
One would think.

I’m not contradicting the last point, you shouldn’t be
spending all your time with the un-redeemed but you shouldn’t be ignoring
them.  They are people who need to hear
that Jesus loves them and that Jesus cares about them.  And we are told that normally happens one on
one.  That people come to know the Lord
and come to church because someone invites them to.

But here is a scary statement from Thom Rainer in his book “The
Unchurched Next Door”, “Are Christians inviting non-Christians to church? The
heartbreaking answer is no.  Only 21 percent of active churchgoers invite anyone to church
in the course of a year. But only 2 percent of church members invited an
unchurched person to church.”

Jesus, God, left heaven and came to this earth and his
steps led him to those who didn’t know him, so they could know him.  They were so important to him, they meaning
you, that he died on a cross for them, meaning you.  So what are we willing to do for them.

Who are those folks in your life who need an invite to
church, not because they don’t attend this church but because they don’t attend
any church.

Who among your friends and family don’t know Jesus, and
just need an invitation to meet him?  I
hope that you have folks that you are praying for, who you will eventually
invite to church for something.  And maybe
you are afraid to invite them because you are afraid they won’t come or will be
offended. 

More research Rainer’s book tells us that: 82 Percent of the unchurched are at least
“somewhat likely” to attend church if they are invited. 
Perhaps we need to pause here to
allow that to sink in, maybe we need to restate it 82 Percent of the unchurched are at least “somewhat likely” to attend
church if they are invited.
Think about it 8 out of 10 of your friends and co-workers
would be at least somewhat likely to attend church if you invited them.  So what is an invitation? For many of the
unchurched it would simply mean being asked. 
For others it included the offer to meet them at the front door to show
them around. But in either case it goes back to a simple premise of: invite
them and they will come.
And finally His Steps Led Him to the Cross.  Jesus didn’t just come to earth to hang
out with people, eventually he had to hang on a cross for people.  He was doing what had to be done.  He wasn’t doing what was easy or convenient
he was simply doing what was right.  And
if we walk in his steps there will come a time that every one of us will have
to decide between doing what is easy and doing what is right.  What will you do?  Here’s a suggestion from Jesus  Luke 9:23 Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my
follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and
follow me.
And only you will know what
cross is it that he will want you to carry as you follow him.