The Christian believer is also called to walking – walking in the Spirit ever day. So let us look as what it means to ‘walk in the Spirit.’ Let me begin by telling two stories, one made up and the other true; both parables meant to convey a truth.
There was a young Christian who felt he had to check out everything with God. Yes, everything! He wakes up in the morning. ‘God, do you want me to get our of bed?’ ‘Ok, what clothes should I wear?’ ‘Should I put my right leg on first or my left leg?’ On and on it went, until eventually, a voice spoke to him, ‘I am your father not your mother!’ Hold on to that for a moment.
I heard a very successful musician being interviewed on radio. He told how and when he had started in music forty years ago, he had studied, acquired skills and increased his ability, until he got to the stage where he said, ‘I do it without thinking.’ That phrase caught my attention as it reminded me of what my grandsons, who belong to a swim club, taught me about ‘muscle memory.’ Their muscles are programed to do the same motion over and over again, until they don’t have to think about it. The same thing applies to golf. Hold on the that for a moment.
Let’s bring these two stories together. In I Corinthians 13:11 (the love chapter), Paul writes, ‘When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child, but when I became a man (or a woman) I put away childish things.’
Think about this for a moment. How does a child speak, understand and think. They start with little vocabulary, a limited ability to communicate, and they don’t understand much beyond what they can see, hear, feel, touch or taste. It is all about me, me, me – my needs, my wants, my toys – but they are not meant to be like that forever. They are meant to grow up.
Now that is how it also is with Christians. We start off as babes in Christ, children and like that young child in Story #1, we ask constant questions, ‘Should I do this?’ (Like Peter – how many times should I forgive my brother) or ‘How do I do this? (Lord, teach us to pray), and on and on.
By the way, normally a new Christian needs help, advice, counsel from others, including teachers, pastors and mentors.
Now the tragedy is that many Christians never grow out of that stage and so get to the stage pictured in Story #2 when they start really living the Christian life, doing it without thinking. They never enter the place of rest where they don’t have to think about ‘should they do something or not,’ where they know that it is part of the kingdom and what the Bible teaches; where they are starting to walk in the Spirit, based on faith built on God’s word.
Now, there is meant to be a continual line of growth from the baby Christian to a mature Christian. The question is how far along that line are you? am I? Bear in mind, maturity is the ideal, the goal we are reaching for and only Jesus lived his life completely at that point. So no condemnation if you are not there yet.
I should note it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t ever seek specific guidance or ask specific questions, especially when it involves major decisions, or the decision between one or more acceptable thing, but we should get past the stage of having to ask about every little thing. We should be grown up and walk in the Spirit.
HOW DO WE WALK IN THE SPIRIT?
Let me suggest three keys (the first in this Langstaff Letter and the next two in the next Langstaff Letter).
#1 – BE A LIFE TIME LEARNER
You need to be a life time learner. Just like a child has to go to school to learn, we have to be committed to learn and committed to grow as a Christian and so grow towards maturity. You need to do as Paul put it, ‘to study to present yourself approved to God; a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.’ 2 Timothy 2:15
Recently I invited a young man in our congregations come out to the pulpit with his Rubic’s cube. I messed it all up, but in a short period of time, he put it back in the right places. I couldn’t do that as I am a baby as far as Rubic’s Cubes are concerned. I asked him ‘Could you do it like that when you first played with it?’ to which he replied, ‘No, I had to learn how to do it.’
So it is with Christians. We have to learn. We have to be committed to grow and that involves study, especially studying the Word of God and what it teaches.
When I first went to Dr. Cho’s church in Korea in 1979, I was given a book about the church called, ‘Caught in the Net.’ A passage in the introduction challenged me to keep growing. Let me share it with you. It was written by Dr. Cho himself and tells the story of the early days of his great church.
“About this time it was through the Assemblies of God Mission that God provided a valuable piece of property at West Gate, in an easily identifiable location. In 1961 it was on this site that a seventy by ninety foot prefabricated building was erected. Evident to Rev. Hurston, Dr Choi and myself that the Lord’s time had come for a fulfilling of the burdens that he had placed in our hearts, we moved to the church at West Gate. How well I remember one of our first staff meetings. With just three of us there we made the decision that only God would set the limits as to how large Full Gospel Central Church would grow. Little was I to realize then that this commitment to growth would later result in God guiding me into forming the unique and powerful cell unit system present in our church today. ”
It was this ‘commitment to growth’ that has been a constant reminder to me that ‘while I live, I should grow.’ How about you?
The first step to being a good learner is to be committed to grow, but it doesn’t stop there and in the next Langstaff Letter I will share with you two more important keys.
Just remember – “these boots were made for walking.” So let’s get walking – walking in the Spirit.