Summary: Christians walk a different walk. Not only do we walk along a different path, but we also walk in a different manner. The difference is caused by our active and dynamic relationship with Jesus.
Various Christian groups have attempted to define what it is like to live as a Christian. At the turn of the twentieth century, the evangelist, Billy Sunday, believed that temperance was the mark of a Christian. Christians shouldn’t drink. Another group of Christians said that women shouldn’t cut their hair, wear make up, or jewelry. I’m not sure what demands this group of Christians made upon the men. A third group of Christians believes that Christians shouldn’t be caught up in modern technology. They reject the technology of cars and electricity, but accept the technology of the wheel and of fire.
The problem that all of these groups face is that they come up with an additional set of laws. All will agree that Christians are saved by grace, which is a free gift from God. They will also agree that the Ten Commandments cannot save us, but will then offer up a new list of commands by which we should live.
Certainly Paul believes that Christians should live differently from the non-Christians in the world. There are places in his writings where he offers specific moral standards. In other writings he talks about being thankful and having a positive attitude on life. Paul even briefly offers his advice on alcohol—don’t get drunk, but take a little wine for you stomach. Most of the time, though, Paul goes deeper than outward actions, and talks about what motivates Christians to act differently and be different from others. This is what he is doing in our lesson for today.
Paul’s references to being at home in the body and away from the Lord may at first appear to be confusing. If we view the Christian life through the lens of relationships—as Paul often does—Paul’s words begin to become clear.
Separation is a part of relationships. Sometimes we are separated only briefly. The kids go off to school while mom and dad head off to their places of employment. Even though they are a part, the kids live as if they are part of a family, and the parents act as married individuals.
There are times when separation is longer. Recently Faye traveled to the North Country to be with her sisters. I batched it for five days, which means I basically took care of myself. During our separation, though, I constantly thought of Faye and lived in the reality that I was married and loved. Men and women who have spouses deployed to distant lands understand the separation and experience for a longer time. No matter how long the deployment is, though, they still live in the reality of that relationship.
Christians have a relationship with Jesus. Once he walked among us, but we are not separated from him. Even though we are separated from Jesus and we do not know when we will be reunited with him, we live each day in the reality that we are loved, forgiven, and empowered for ministry. Living in that reality is called walking by faith.
MOTIVATED BY LOVE
There are those days when we want to stay in bed. We’re tired of being separated from the person we love. There’s a void in our lives that like a black hole sucks the energy from us. We look around and we see all the frustrations in life. We can’t see making any progress and our work is boring and ineffective. All we want to do is shut the alarm clock off and pull the covers over our head.