Article #7 - Cool or Complete?

Written on 05/08/2024
Pastor Todd

When I was a little younger--okay, a lot--younger, I’m guessing somewhere around 8th Grade, I had a buddy who had just moved in next-door. Todd was a year older than I and a grade ahead of me. No, his name is not a subtle pseudonym for me, myself, and I—we just happened to have the same name. Besides, you’d think I could certainly come up with a more creative pseudonym if that were my intention.

One time, after getting off the school bus at the end of the day the group of kids from our neighborhood was walking down the alley to return to our homes, and Todd was walking in front of me. His walk was so distinct it caught my attention. He was short for his age, and he had a bit of a longer stride [maybe to try to make him look taller or to keep up] and with each step he sort of rolled his leading foot forward as he launched or bounced off his toes.

I recall weird details like this because as a brand-new teenager I was like most others—trying to figure out who I was and where I fit in. That day I saw Todd’s walk and my reaction was to try to find “my walk.” Though we became very good friends, I distinctly remember telling myself that I did NOT want to walk like him. I wanted my own “walk.” A cool one, of course! My walk was important to me.

This brings to mind an occasion that occurred years later while in Army Basic Training at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. We were in the field, which means we were neither comfy nor cozy, and for the first time our Company had arranged for hot chow to be trucked out to us. It was nice change from MRE’s (Meals Ready to Eat), especially after a series of days with -30F degrees windchill. After eating what was a delicious meal (only by military standards) I put my Kevlar helmet back on my head, slung my M16 over my shoulder, and carried my tray to the trash can. As I was dumping my tray, another soldier walked up and began dumping his trash between the garbage bag liner and the trash can. Without even looking up, I said in a very commanding voice, “Hey! Hey! Hey!” At which point a firm grasp from the other soldier lifted my helmet, along with my head and eyes, to see that it was none other than Drill Sergeant Allen! I must have turned ten shades of red! He simply looked me in the eye and gave me a piercing grin that spoke loudly, without him saying a word. He didn’t have to! Among many other good leadership qualities I’d learned from him, that brief experience gave me the “Cliffs Notes” on walking circumspectly, being watchful, and knowing who and what is around you at all times. (That's why that snake thing bothered me so much. See Article #6.)

The Bible has a lot to say about how to walk. For instance, Colossians 1:10 says that we are to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord.” That means we’re to look to Jesus, study and learn His walk, and then walk just like Him.

God’s Word even adds that emulating the good and righteous walk of others is valuable. That’s why the Apostle Paul repeatedly stated, “Imitate me…” (1 Cor. 11:1; Eph. 5:1-2, 8, 15; 1 Thess. 1:6; 2:14; Heb. 6:12; 13:7). As bold as that statement may sound on the surface, Paul was not at all pointing to himself, but only to His striving to imitate Christ and leave that impression upon others. He expressed his desire to walk like Christ (and invited us to walk along) when He spoke of his longing to be “found in Him” and to “know Him and the power of resurrection” (Phil. 3:8ff). He expressed it in the context of walking like Christ by persevering through suffering (2 Cor. 11:23-33). He even expressed his desire to love like Christ to the extent that he said he was willing to walk the path of being “accursed, separated from Christ” if it meant that others (specifically his Jewish brethren) would become followers of Christ. We ought to be certain there is no closer walk with Christ than that, for there is no greater demonstration of love (John 15:13). The fact is that others around us will be more captivated by our love, our lifestyles and our walks, than by our speech. Our walk is important—but here I’m not talking about being cool (adolescent) but complete (spiritually mature).

In Galatians 5 Paul used two different words for walk when he wrote “Walk by the Spirit.” The words give us fascinating pictures which help us understand what he was saying. In verse 16 he wrote, "But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh." Here the Greek word for walk is "peripateo." From this that we get our English word parapet: A barrier which is an extension of the wall at the edge/top of a roof or terrace. It’s a protective wall that keeps one from going over the edge. Paul likened that to the Holy Spirit who the Lord has given to fill and guide believers and help them to walk circumspectly, to keep us from going over the edge in pursuit of the flesh (it kills!). Yet in the very same chapter, only verses later (v. 25), he went on to say, "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit." But in this verse, Paul used a different word for walk. Here he used "stoicheo." The word means to proceed in a row as the march of a soldier; to go in order. To contextualize, this pretty much describes a setting where when you get out of step it will be noticed by everyone else who is in step with the Spirit of God. Any who have been in the military or in marching band will be able to grab the handle on this one and carry it home!

So, the Bible says that living and walking by the Spirit is where we find protection, and it is like marching in a precise formation, staying in step with the One who is leading us, the Spirit of God. That’s the gist of walking the walk. How’s your walk? Are you walking like Christ? Are you in step or out of step with the Holy Spirit? And, is your walk so distinct that it’s catching others’ attention? Are others finding that you’re walking in a manner worthy of the Lord? Can they say, “I want to walk like_______________?"