Christian Perfection – 06: Walking As Christ Also Walked
By: Frank L. Hoffman
Jesus said, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)
(Wesley’s writings are in bold)
There are only two people in the Bible who, we are told, walked with God. The first was Enoch (Genesis 5:22-24 NASV):
Then Enoch walked with God three hundred years after he became the father of Methuselah, and he had other sons and daughters. So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.
Many years ago, when I first read this passage in the middle of this genealogy Chapter, I was awestruck. This man wasn’t just born and had children and then died, as we are told of the others. Enoch walked with God! And I remember saying out loud, “Yes, Lord, that’s what I want to do, too. I want to walk with You.”
And then a little further in the Bible, in Genesis 6:9, we see the same thing said of Noah before the time of The Flood:
These are the records of the generations of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless [complete, perfect; or having integrity] in his time; Noah walked with God. (NASV)
Then there is another interesting passage (Genesis 17:1 NASV) in which God tells Abram [Abraham], “Walk before Me, and be blameless.” However, nowhere in the Bible do we have the confirmation that Abraham was actually able to accomplish this command to be “perfect”.
Walking with God takes more than just expressing the desire to do so. It takes a commitment. It takes an inner resolve to listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit rather than to the pull of ungodly things in this world. And with the help of the Holy Spirit, I’ve been able to “walk with God” at times, but not in totality. It’s a life long endeavor.
One day, years ago, I was contemplating this struggle of seeking to walk with God, and I had a dream or a vision, I don’t know which, that gave me great insight.
Before me were rugged hills and a valley devoid of any living plant life or animals. Though I didn’t see myself, I apparently was among other people, climbing over rocks and logs on top, or near the top, of one of the hills. To my left was a valley, and part way up the hill that I was on was a smooth road, stretching through the valley as far as I could see. As I looked down upon that road, I could see only one individual walking on it. It was the Lord! All the rest of us were struggling to climb along the top of the hill over the rocks and logs, apparently not realizing how smooth a pathway the Lord had prepared for us to walk along with Him.
We don’t have to climb any mountains or perform any spectacular deeds to walk with God; we just have to be willing to walk with Him on the path He is traveling upon and do as He does, and not the ways we might choose. The Lord, and the rest of us upon the hill, were all going in the same direction, but we were struggling to do so. The Lord was not. The rocks and logs and rugged hills are the burdens and struggles we place before ourselves along with the evils of this world. For the most part we cannot change or eliminate most of them, for the “world” isn’t ready for such changes. And the Lord, as He walked along, could see our struggles and all the world’s problems, but unlike us, He was walking on a smooth road that would lead to “Perfection” and a time when all would be made right again. Like Him, we are to be the witnesses of what the Lord desires of us all.
And since that day, our whole ministry has been devoted to being witnesses before the world of the perfection of God’s creation and of the world to come, a place where there will no longer be any tears, or death, or mourning, or crying, or pain for any human or non-human (Revelation 21:4). But in the process of trying to walk with the Lord and bring as much of the heavenly will of God to earth as we can, we all too often find ourselves struggling to climb over the unyielding rocks and logs. Our real job is to continue to be seen as the witnesses of the truth, yet at the same time, we also must be willing to walk along with the Lord to the times and places in our own lifetime, when we are able to smooth out the rocky hills of corruption, pain, and suffering, to whatever extent possible.
Over two hundred and seventy years ago, when he was twenty-seven years old, John Wesley began to wake up to this conclusion and to the standard by which to evaluate it. He writes in Part 5 of A Plain Account Of Christian Perfection:
In the year 1729 I began not only to read but to study the Bible, as the one, the only standard of truth, and the only model of pure religion. Hence I saw in a clearer and clearer light the indispensable necessity of having “the mind that was in Christ,” (1 Corinthians 2:16) and of “walking as Christ also walked” (1 John 2:6); even of having not some part only, but all the mind which was in Him, and of walking as He walked, not only in many or in most respects but in all things. And this was the light wherein at this time I generally considered religion, as a uniform following of Christ, an entire inward and outward conformity to our Master. Nor was I afraid of anything more than of bending this rule to the experience of myself or of other men, of allowing myself in any the least disconformity to our grand Exemplar.
The only accepted source of God’s spiritual truths is contained in the Bible. There are many spiritual truths and lies outside the Bible, but we need a way of evaluating them, and the Bible helps us do just that. It is our standard of excellence and perfection. Nevertheless, throughout the ages, even to this present day, there are unscrupulous people who deliberately distort the Biblical messages for their own personal gain or to try to justify their evil natures. Religion based upon these distortions lead people away from “walking as Christ also walked” and from having “the mind that was in Christ.”
There are some very simple ways of evaluating Biblical interpretations for our life’s journey toward Christian perfection:
- Is it based on love?
- Does it seek to bring joy to the heart and soul of all of God’s creatures (humans and non-humans) and to eliminate their pain and suffering?
- Does it seek to comfort and eliminate emotional stress, strain, anguish, tears, and mourning?
- Does it seek to eliminate death in this world?
- Does it seek to bring us to a oneness with God and Christ in His perfection?
If the answer to any of these questions is other than a resounding YES, the interpretation is not according to God’s intent or heavenly will, and it should be rejected; for it will not lead to Christian perfection, and it is a stumbling block (rocks and logs) before us.
As Wesley says, we need to seek the light of the truth that is in the mind of Christ, that we might walk with Him all the days of our life, and even forever.