Walking By Faith
Updated: Dec 13, 2018
Hiking is one of my favorite pastimes. There is something very satisfying about taking one step at a time and ending up far away from where you started. Also, observing life all around you in a way you can’t while driving. I am told they have a different name for this activity in England. They refer to hiking as a “walking holiday.” I suppose “walking” is what it’s all about after all.
In 2 Corinthians 5:7, the apostle Paul draws upon his own experience and the biblical theme of walking to describe the Christian life: “we walk by faith and not by sight.” Throughout the Bible, the action of “walking” is very often used metaphorically to symbolize the way one lives, or how one conducts their life. A person’s “walk” with God essentially means the whole of their life before God. For this reason, Jewish tradition often speaks of the Hebrew Bible and other books of Jewish law as “Halakhah,” which in Hebrew literally means “walking”–how to conduct one’s life.
One of the most important “walkers” depicted in the Hebrew Bible (or Old Testament) is the figure of Abraham, who was called to “walk before God and be blameless” (Genesis 17:1). To be sure, he does a lot of literal walking around in the Bible, but it seems God’s call refers more to the way he lives his life spiritually, ethically, prayerfully, lovingly before God. Another very important characteristic of Abraham described in the Bible is the way he lived by faith. “Abraham believed God and it was credited to him as righteousness” (Genesis 15:6). It would certainly be fitting for us to return to the story of Abraham (Genesis 12-22) to understand what Paul might have had in mind when he talks about us Christians “walking by faith.”
But, Abraham isn’t the only figure in the scriptures we could associate with “walking by faith.” In the New Testament, Hebrews chapter 11 speaks of so many figures from the Bible who are examples of “faith” for Christians to follow or “walk” behind: including Noah, Daniel, David, and so many others. Before the apostles, the prophets similarly described the exemplary lives of “the righteous who live by their faith” (Habakkuk 2:4).
The question I am asking myself and my fellow believers this week is: How do we walk by our faith? It’s not enough to possess faith if one does not also walk, or conduct the rest of one’s life, in the light of their faith. Paul sheds a little further light on this subject when he writes, “from now on, we regard no one from a merely human point of view” (or, in Greek, literally, “according to the flesh”). Rather, we ought to regard each other, and everyone we meet, according to the Spirit. See others as God sees them. Look with the eyes of the heart of Christ, and not just our natural, limited point-of-view. This is part of what it means, says Paul, to walk according to our faith.
Do I look at others as God sees them? Do I even make the effort? Jesus often showed compassion for the hurt, sick, poor, immigrant, stranger, or “least of these.” I can’t imagine him being disgusted or put off by any man or woman’s sincere request. He wasn’t happy about the selfishness and impatience of the Scribes, Pharisees, and often enough, his own disciples or the crowds. But neither did he turn his face or loving gaze completely away from them. Patiently, he told them how he saw them and called them to be all that they could be.
How can you and I walk by faith and not by sight? I imagine there are so many ways of answering that question, but perhaps a good place to start is here with the apostle’s words. Call to mind the people you see or talk to every day, every week, every so often. Now think: From what point of view do I look at them? Is it all too human? How would Jesus view them? How does God view us now? Perhaps by such a simple act of prayerful imagination, the Holy Spirit will reveal to us how we can more beautifully and effectively “walk by faith” before our God today.