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Walking silhouette

BRUCE C WEARNE looks at what Paul writes about the call for Christians to walk a different path in Ephesians, chapter four…

This then is to say and render testimony to you in the Lord, that you are no longer to walk as [all] the nations walk with the their presumptious outlook, with their minds [still] in the dark, exiles to the life of God because of the ignorance residing in them due to the callousness of their hearts, having lost touch with how to care for themselves and plunging into all kinds of shameless conduct with all filth and with an incessant demand for more. But that is not how you have learned of Christ, assuming that it has been from Him that you heard, and have been taught, the truth about Jesus [Himself]. – Ephesians 4:17-21/transliteration by Bruce C Wearne

Walking silhouette 

PICTURE: Jad Limcaco/Unsplash

Paul has explained, as best he could, the standing of the congregation of believers in Christ – they are those who are being served by the apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers, gifts to them from Christ’s bequest. Now they, like him, can fulfill their peculiar work of table service building up the entire household of God. And it needs to be emphasised that this service is rendered in the context of ways of life that manifest arrogant presumption, persisting along dark paths of wilful ignorance.

And hence, here is an admonition not to walk any longer in the way manifest by those living according to their own former way of life. If this is read without due notice of the “no longer” – a recognition of the grace of God that has come to them and set them on a new path – then the danger is that a reader will begin to presume that they are already set on this path by their own efforts, their own inherent tendency to be obedient.

But this is a description of how it is that, without Christ’s grace, we are merely walking the dark roads of callous indifference that characterises the nations without Israel’s Redeemer. To ignore the fact that walking in the light of Christ is to turn one’s back on darkness means one is in perpetual danger of a foolish presumption, an outlook confirmed and maintained by a hardness of heart.

The path of the nations is one that has “lost touch with how to care for themselves”. The nurture of children is implicit to the human condition, and so this “walk” has a generation-to-generation character. Humankind in Christ has been rescued from a condition in which they were unable to transcend their condition as “children of an angry violence”. To ignore that heritage is spiritually dangerous; it can only properly be understood in the light of Christ; the problem Christ has overcome for sinners is that sinners have only got themselves to blame. To learn from the Lamb of God, Jesus of Nazareth, as proclaimed by John the Baptist, is to be embraced by the love and mercy of the Heavenly Father.



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