In my youth it was common for the Christian’s walk to be preached on. Modern translations have generally eliminated to word “walk” from the many NT occurrences. Given that we still talk about walking as in being in or out of step, or walking the walk, I’ve often thought it a pity that translations could not trust readers of Scripture to understand the user of the term. Is it not a richer expression than “live”?
It gives a clearer picture of life as a journey. And it also, to my mind, gives a clearer picture of the pace at which life is to be lived. Although the NT does talk of running a race, its overwhelming picture is of walking. Walking is not a fast activity, nor a frenetic one. Yet so much of daily life travels at the speed of light. Nor am I convinced that running the race implies speed, but rather endurance. So the biblical pace of life would most definitely appear to be what this world calls “life in the slow lane”.
The idea of being out of step with the world’s thinking indicates that life is no solitary existence. Life’s walk involves companionship: the journey is undertaken in company. Being out of step with the world’s thinking will inevitably lead to a parting of company with the world. But Christian believers walk in company–with one another in the Church. But beyond the human companionship of a journey travelled in company with like-minded people, is the divine companionship of God, and in particular his Holy Spirit. So the NIV captures the flavour of this in Galatians 5:25 by “keep in step with the Spirit”.
Though no doubt many sentimental sermons have been preached on Enoch, surely his walk with God makes this divine company on the journey so abundantly clear and immensely comforting. Even at the physical level, Genesis 2 must teach us that human beings walk in company–it was not good for the man to be alone.
Graeme Goldsworthy is undoubtedly right in pointing out the out of stepness of the Christian with the secular thinking when he says, “Christianity presents a unique picture that is so out of step with the secular way of thinking that it has to be constantly argued and defended even within the pages of Scripture.” (Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, p.17) But the flip side is the instepness of the Christian with the Spirit. The out of stepness inevitably leads to conflict in the arena of ideas. Thus Paul exhorts Timothy to “wage the good warfare” (1Tim 1:18) and he instructs the Corinthian Christians to engage in spiritual warfare that will destroy arguments and contrary opinions (2Co 10:4,5).
Given the nature of the struggle which faces all Christians of keeping in step with the Spirit while living in a world which is out of step with God it is so helpful that Scripture gives us arguments and defences within its pages. And those concepts are earthed in the lives of men of God like Abraham and Paul who struggled to march of the rhythms of heaven’s drum, rather than that of this age.
Goldsworthy continues, “There is only one way the nations will find God, and that is through the salvation of Israel, which is set to be a light to the nations.” (p.18) This is precisely where Paul is coming from in 1Tim 1:!6. He himself is an example in the hands of Christ of God’s mercy in dealing with sinners. His out of stepness was no mere eccentricity, but the think that drew attention to him that God’s message of salvation may be delivered.
Goldsworthy’s warning against religious syncretism (p.17) is timely and crucial for true Christian witness. Heterodoxy enables people to walk in step with the secular thinking. Orthodoxy puts us out of step, and noticeably so. It will prompt questions in the minds of unbelievers that permit us to give the reason for the hope that is in us (1Pet 3:15). It is part of God’s Gospel strategy. We dare not deviate if we are to wage the good warfare. So let us be out of step with secular thinking.