We often talk about our relationship with Jesus as “a walk.” From the Old Testament’s early pages, where “Enoch walked with God” (Gen. 5:24), to Ephesians, where Paul urges believers to “walk in a manner worthy of the calling” (Eph. 4:1), the metaphor clues us in to the nature of faith in Christ as a lived experience.
In our busy, modern lives, walking is for the most part an activity, whereas in biblical times it was the primary mode of transportation—something people did by necessity. Recognizing this difference gives us a richer idea of what it means to walk with God.
First-century Judea had a pedestrian culture. While donkeys were occasionally used to carry supplies and the wealthy sometimes traveled by horse or chariot, most people went on foot. And while this transportation constraint certainly would have limited how far people traveled, the territory they covered was still pretty large. For instance, based on the biblical accounts of Jesus’ ministry, His travels spanned at least 50 miles east to west, and 150 miles north to south. Jesus would have covered more than 15,000 miles during His lifetime.
Compared to the total distance a typical U.S. adult covers on foot, 15,000 miles isn’t much. Most people walk an average of two miles per day, which translates into 730 miles each year, or 24,090 miles in 33 years, Jesus’ life span. But in our automotive-centered culture, we accumulate miles by tracking steps in the grocery store, taking the dog for a walk, or running in place on a treadmill. When Jesus walked, He went places.
Based on the biblical accounts of Jesus’ ministry, His travels spanned at least 50 miles east to west, and 150 miles north to south. Jesus would have covered more than 15,000 miles during His lifetime.
Not only did people in the first century traverse a lot of ground, but they also spent a lot of time doing so. In the New Testament, we find people on foot going to shop, work, and gather supplies. They got their steps in by visiting friends or checking on family. They went to the synagogue and other festivals and religious gatherings. They walked in pairs or groups for safety on their journeys, but they also spent the time in conversation, teaching one another, and even singing. Walking wasn’t just about arriving somewhere—life happened along the way.
It’s the same with our faith experience. Following Jesus certainly is “good for us,” like walking for exercise, but it’s not simply about counting steps and checking off another item on the to-do list. Jesus wants our relationship with Him to be an integral part of our life. He wants us to welcome Him along wherever we’re going.
As Dr. Stanley says in his sermon “Are You Walking With God,” to walk with the Lord “means to keep Him at the center in everything we do, say, and think—in our relationships, finances, plans, and every area of our life. It’s the wisest way to walk.”