How many people here walk? We all walk, sometimes we walk short distances, sometimes we walk long distances 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 3,370,000,000 hits, so knock yourself out.
When we lived in Kingswood I’d often say about the church, “It’s close enough that I could walk, I don’t but I could”
In the scripture that was 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, of walking as Jesus 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.
John whose father was Zebedee, John who was a fishing partner with Peter, a brother to James and was sometimes referred to as one of the Sons of Thunder.
The book was written toward the end of John’s life around A.D. 80, Peter has been crucified, Paul has been beheaded and John is writing as the last surviving Apostle. What was the purpose of this letter? It was written to the believers in the area of Ephesus 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? If you walked like me, you’d all walk like the Great A&W Root Bear. When we discovered that my Great Great Grandmother was first Nation I decided that my Indigenous name would be “Walks like Bear.”
Well, 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’ lifestyle 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. The premise of the story 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 a 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 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 when you hear people speaking about the church and various social issues, they will talk about how accepting Jesus was of people, and how he wouldn’t judge or condemn people.
You have to wonder if they have ever read 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.
Matthew 3:13–15 Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him.
His Steps Led him into the Waters of Baptism There’s a lot we don’t know about Jesus’ baptism. It seems confusing that Jesus would feel it necessary to be baptized by John.
John had been teaching a baptism of repentance, but our understanding of scripture is that Jesus was sinless, so he had nothing to repent of, and yet he still felt that he needed to be baptized.
This was the beginning of his story, and when John hesitates and questions the entire thing, listen to Jesus’ response, Matthew 3:15 But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.”
This was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. There was nothing magical about the water that Jesus was baptized in, we don’t really see a logical reason for his baptism. In the most practical sense, he simply went down dry and came back up wet.
And yet this would appear to be the first point of obedience for Jesus. The Father required it, and Jesus did it. And then we read, Matthew 3:16–17 After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” Why did Jesus bring the Father great joy? Because he was obedient?
Throughout the New Testament, Christ’s followers are commanded to be baptized, as their first act of obedience.
In his first message to those who gathered on the day of Pentecost, Peter said, Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Each of you must repent of your sins and turn to God, and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. Then you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”
And then if we skip down a couple of more verses we read in Acts 2:41 Those who believed what Peter said were baptized and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.
If we have chosen to follow Jesus, then we need to follow him into the water of baptism. This is why Jesus said in Mark 16:16 “Anyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. But anyone who refuses to believe will be condemned.”
But the story doesn’t end there.
Luke 6:12 One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night.
His Steps Led Him to His Father. 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 physical 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 superhuman 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.
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.
Most of you know that I’ve been involved in building projects in every church I’ve led.
And when we were building, I would sometimes find myself going to the building project, not very often, seldom more than four or five times a day.
And there were times that I need to answer a question that one of the contractors might have, perhaps the location of a door, the slope of the parking lot or where the driveway is going in. And because I was either there or they had my cell phone number they knew what my will or the will of the building committee was.
If there was no way for them to contact me and I never spoke to them then they wouldn’t know what it was that I wanted?
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 do it on your own is prove 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, and 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.
Matthew 20:17 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him.
His Steps Led Him to His Followers 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.
Well, 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 this is how God loved the world: 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 than 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 lightning 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 than 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, 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 other 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.
About two months after we went to Truro Angela had a severe asthma attack one evening at about 10 o’clock. Stephen was just a year old, and Angela didn’t feel she could drive herself to outpatients.
Not far from where we lived was a couple from our church, he was on the board she had told us that if we ever needed anything to call. So, we did, explained the situation, and asked if they could come over to watch Stephen, they told us that they had just gone to bed and had to get up for work in the morning. They did however give us the name and number of a young man, we had never met, who might consider coming over to watch Stephen.
And you get to know people by spending time with them, at the hello-ship time after the service, by sticking around when we have potlucks, eating together is very important, by attending social events 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.
Matthew 9:10–11 Later, Matthew invited Jesus and his disciples to his home as dinner guests, along with many tax collectors and other disreputable sinners. But when the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with such scum?”
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 led 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 called 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 that 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.
Are there people in your life whom you have felt to invite to church? And I’m not talking about folks who already attend a bible believing church.
As people start to gather again, it will be a perfect opportunity to invite those who don’t know Jesus to visit our church so they can meet him. I hope you already have a prayer list of those you need to invite.
Here is a question that I heard recently, “Will you take spiritual responsibility for those in your workplace?” Will you pray for them, and look for the opportunity to invite them to church?
Another statement from Rainer’s book is: “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: invite them, and they will come.
Matthew 20:17–19 As Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside privately and told them what was going to happen to him. “Listen,” he said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence him to die. Then they will hand him over to the Romans to be mocked, flogged with a whip, and crucified. But on the third day he will be raised from the dead.”
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 in Luke 9:23 Then Jesus said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must give up your own way, take up your cross daily, and follow me.”