Walk as Christ Walked
When life is in turmoil and the wicked “cast up mire and dirt,” when it seems like the foundations are destroyed, hold to the constant, the first things of the faith, the essence of discipleship. Hold first and foremost to Him who is “the same yesterday, today, and forever.” In particular, hold fast to the dying and rising of Jesus Christ, for this is what defines us now and forever. We die with him that we may live and reign with him. Whatever else God may be doing in the world, whatever he calls us to do or to endure, this is our path. It was our Lord’s, and he has set us an example “to walk as he walked.”
Let us begin with his dying, that deep valley of humiliation and suffering he had to traverse in order to be our perfected Savior and redeem us to God by his blood. We must also walk this valley of humility, otherwise how can that glorious promise come to pass: “humble yourself under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time?” To learn and practice this humility, pray without ceasing: “Lord, I am not my own, but yours. Bought with your blood, take me, strengthen me to serve you, make me yielded to your hand, even in these times and troubles. Help me not to be a slave to fear but a believer in your promises. Where I need chastening, do so in your mercy, for your wrath would consume me. By your grace, seeing how angry you are at your enemies, I repent. The more evil surrounds me, help me to obey you with greater constancy, speak your truth more fearlessly, and love men patiently.”
But humbling is not an end in itself, nor is chastening. This would be but half a gospel, and a hopeless and hard gospel. The Christian faces trouble very differently from the child of this world, for he recognizes and rejoices in God’s loving hand in all his trials. Humbling is unto uplifting, sorrow unto joy, endurance unto victory, the cross unto the crown. The believer’s hope is one of God’s great treasures and weapons; it makes all the difference in his life. The child of God does not need to know the outcome of the particular trials he faces, the who or even the why of the agitations that he meets along his pilgrim path. He rests in his God and Father. This gives him patience, joy, and an indomitable sense of purpose in his life, whatever happens to him or how madly the world swirls around him. He is not oblivious or a fool – he is a believer in the God who raises the dead and in the Savior who died to rise, who was humbled to reign.
Partaking of our Savior’s humiliation is necessary to our hope now and heaven later. We must be conformed to Christ our Head. He learned obedience through suffering (Heb. 5:8), and He is our grand Exemplar and the Captain of our salvation. The Holy Spirit is given to us that the life of our Savior, the way he walked, will be formed in us. The servant is not greater than his Master. Our conformity is not limited to personal sufferings. It includes public trials, like being ruled by tyrants who are a terror to those who do good and an insult to God’s majesty and our Savior’s gospel kingdom. Even if it becomes necessary to resist them, we must at the same time recognize them as God’s hand (Ps. 17:8) to bring us low for our sins and to make us long and pray for mercy. If we yield our blood-bought lives to the Lord, meekly receive his chastening, and go the extra mile to serve our enemies, we have learned by the Spirit to be like Christ, to walk as he walked. We have also learned, as our Savior did, the secret source of peace and power: not my will, Father, but yours.
Humbling is not a recipe for passivity, and it never leads to a quiet pietism that refuses to enter fully into the battle of our times for Christ’s kingdom and glory. True humility gives courage like our Savior’s. Only after he was humbled in Gethsemane’s dust did he rise to meet his accusers, save his people, and vanquish the devil. Daniel received strength to face the lions because he believed God and prayed in disobedience to Darius’ edict. Jacob wrestled with the Angel and was thereby so humbled that he ever after limped – then he went out by faith to meet Esau and reclaim the land of promise.
What does it mean to be exalted? We must also be conformed to Christ our Head and Master in his glory. We have died with him, and we are raised with him. We have been crucified with him, and we must reign with him. As it goes with Jesus Christ, so it must be go with all who are in him. He is now “exalted, extolled, and very high” (Isa. 52:13), and we are raised and seated with him in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:5-6), although “it does not yet appear what we shall be” (1 John 3:2). We can at least say this. As he was crucified in weakness yet lives by God’s power, the same power that raised him from the dead works in those who believe (Eph. 1:19-23). We have a hidden strength through union with Jesus Christ of which the world can know nothing. Thus, we are to pray to be strengthened with that power unto holiness, obedience, wisdom, and every fruit of the Spirit (Eph. 3:17; Col. 1:11). We live in Christ and have passed already through the first resurrection. Like him, we have been raised to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4): new heart, new record of justifying righteousness, new power unto godliness, new grace to forgive and edify, new eyes to behold wondrous things out of God’s word – all that new life Jesus came to give us abundantly. We have strength to resist hopelessness, overcome by the world by faith, lift up our heads when we are insulted, forsake sin and flee temptation, and do our Father’s will. We have the power of Christ Jesus our Lord at work in us.
Let us never, however, think of being exalted in Christ in worldly terms. This is what Satan tempted our Lord to do – cast yourself down from the temple pinnacle – show everyone that you are the Son of God – prove it. Ours is not an earthly kingdom and therefore not an earthly exaltation. The world hated Christ, and it hates Christ in us. While we hold loosely to this life (1 Cor. 7:31), we cling tenaciously to what it truly means to be exalted in Christ. We can begin where the Spirit does when he speaks most directly of our union with Jesus Christ in his death and resurrection – newness of life (Rom. 6:1-13). Instead of doing our own will and thinking our own thoughts, we are now exalted in Christ to walk as he walked – to delight in God’s will and to do it (Ps. 40:8; John 8:29). Obedience, obedience prompted by faith and love, obedience joyfully given – this is the main reason our Savior died and rose for us – that we might be recovered to the delightful life of obedience (Eph. 2:10).
But to be exalted in him and with him also means that we are kingdom of priests, or a royal priesthood, so that we offer up thanksgiving to God, “the fruit of our lips giving praise unto his name.” Praise to his Father was the center of our Lord’s desire as he contemplated from the cross his resurrection and exaltation (Ps. 22:25). To be truly exalted, we must be constantly praising and praying, as our Savior is doing at his Father’s right hand. To this, we share in his exaltation as we speak his word, Since we are raised and reigning with him, we must speak with his authority. The Bible – its history, political philosophy, theology of redemption, ethics, foundations for science, patterns of piety, with “Christ the wisdom and power of God” as the vital center of the whole edifice of divine revelation – we do not offer these to the world as pious suggestions but as the Word of the King, with whom we reign. Let us be “much more bold to speak the word without fear” (Phil. 1:14). The word we speak is the sword our Master wields to strike his enemies and quicken his sheep.
Consider this week that all the changes we are experiencing do not alter in the least our dying daily with Christ so that we may live in him and share in his glory and power. Christian discipleship is vital at the present hour, vital because it is so rare, so startling, and so relevant – to be humbled beneath the cross, to be raised upon a throne, to die to oneself so that Christ can live and work his grace in us. This was our Savior’s path, and it is the way we are to walk. Our world needs Christians who live by dying in Christ and who live as seated with him in heaven. And what he is doing there? Reigning over all things by his word, interceding for his Church, defeating his enemies, and subduing all things beneath his feet. Live reigning with him, child of God. It is God’s calling to you in your home, neighborhood, place of business, and wherever you are. You have died with Christ to the world; you now live in him by the power of God. Consider carefully how you may live his death and life, his cross and crown, to mend broken relationships, to give renewed purpose to each day, to pray with greater fervency, and to bear witness to the living Savior in a nation that has rebelled against him and must be crushed beneath his feet unless it falls there in faith and repentance. Show it the way, child of God. Walk as Jesus walked.