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Walking the Walk

“You’ve been in the military,” I remember the man saying to me as we briefly conversed. I had never met him prior to our convergence. Before I could figure out what magic he used to discern my past, he explained his clairvoyance. “You just have the walk.”   In those days, I still had a characteristic American marching clip to my gait.  Even though my military career had been short and uneventful —  just basic training, medic school, Airborne school, and some time in the Texas and Mississippi Army National Guards — those experiences were powerful enough to shape my actual physical walk even after I had gotten out. I looked like a soldier, because I walked like one. In the simple sense that I continued to maintain a certain level of physical discipline, it could even be said that I lived like one. Part of who I was could be identified by the way I walked and lived.  This distinctness is true of the armies of many nations.  Americans have a very lazy kind of march that easily identifies them. Russians, conversely, use an unmistakable goose step in their ceremonial marching.  

Paul urges, perhaps even pleads with us, to walk in a manner worthy of our calling (Ephesians 4:1 ESV). What he means by this isn’t that we should have a particular way that we physically move our legs and feet. Instead, what he means is that our calling should be identifiable by the way we live our lives. He implies that our calling is a high calling by asserting that those lives should reflect the high value, merit, or excellence of that calling. He goes on to point out that these lives are not so much characterized by what we don’t do, but rather by the way in which we engage with those around us. We are to be humble, gentle, long suffering, and to extend grace against the flaws and faults of those brothers and sisters around us, as we demonstrate our commitment to their well-being (Ephesians 4:2-3). Paul’s few “do not” references are counterbalanced with strong, active “do this” language. For example, he tells us, “to put off” our old corrupt self with it’s deceitful desires (vs 22), which make us less sensitive to the things of God, and more sensitive to things of the world (vs 19). Instead, he says, to “put on,” a new self, created to reflect the character of God (vs 24). Rather than speaking falsehoods, Paul says to speak truthfully to your neighbor (vs 25). He commands us not to sin because of our anger, but instead, to solve the problem quickly, “before the sun goes down” (vs 26). Instead of stealing, he says to work hard so that you have enough to share with others (vs 28). Most importantly, he tells us to get rid of rage, malice, bitterness, and those things that conflict with Godly love and peace (vs 31-32).

If you do these things, and live a life reflective of your calling to be like Jesus, then when you meet someone new, they might say, “you’re a Christian. I can tell by the way you walk.”

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