My wife, Heather, enjoys walking and running. I can’t say that I enjoy either, but from time to time I do enjoy going with her. I walk more than I run. When I began going with her, she was quick to tell me that she already had a pre-planned course for us. She said it was the perfect, safe, two mile path that went through some nice neighborhoods. So, from time to time I join her on path.
Growing up I would go on walks with my mom. They were not always so pleasant. We were attacked several times by dogs, had to cross dangerous streets, and passed through neighborhoods that were “shady”. I enjoyed the time with my mom, but I was a nervous wreck while we walked.
Life is a walk.
We all walk through life and do so by passing through neighborhoods. I’m not talking about the cities we live in or the place where our house is located. I’m talking about what we see and hear that shapes who we are. I’m talking about the conversations we have with ourselves every day. As we walk through life, we have an internal conversation with ourselves that others rarely hear. It serves as a running commentary of our day based on our actions and words. The neighborhoods we walk through tell us who we are.
The Bible says there are two places that we can walk – two types of conversations that we can have. One is based on the need to have to do certain things in order to be pleasing to God. That neighborhood is the neighborhood of law. It demands certain behavior before favor is given. It demands that violators be punished. It measures worth by what you do. Everyone is born in this neighborhood. Everyone hears the voices of this neighborhood.
Here is what you hear when you walk in the neighborhood of law:
- I’m not doing enough.
- I ought to be doing more.
- I ought to be a better Christian.
- Favor and blessing comes from God if I am doing all that I am supposed to.
- Blessing from God comes only when I obey.
- God is more pleased with me when I am doing the right things.
- My failures and faults are always with me.
- I am going to regularly recommit myself to God to do better.
The result of walking in this neighborhood is a continual, unsettled feeling of unworthiness. This neighborhood shouts out voices of accusation and disapproval. No one gets any hope by walking in this neighborhood. This neighborhood can only reveal what you ought to be doing and what you haven’t been doing. The only thing it gives is greater guilt, condemnation, and a need to have to make yourself do right. There is no peace, no joy, no real sense of love and passion.
There is another neighborhood.
Jesus Christ died on the cross to free us from the old neighborhood. By personally accepting what He did on the cross, we can be free from our sins, guilt, failure, and the pressure to have to always do right. When we accept this wondrous truth by faith, it ignites within us a new motivation, new heart, and new spirit. We are made one with the very Spirit and heart of God! We are forgiven and made righteous. There is no more condemnation. There is now peace!
We move into a new neighborhood.
Here is this new neighborhood, we are invited to walk about freely and enjoy what has been given to us! This new neighborhood is radically different than the one we used to walk in. It is the neighborhood of the Spirit!
Walk in the Spirit… Galatians 5:16
In the neighborhood of the Spirit we walk about and enjoy forgiveness, peace, release, and love from the Father. We are reminded continually of who we have been made. We are free from who we used to be. There are no voices of condemnation. There are only shouts of joy and favor. And those voices continue even when we falter and fail. This is the neighborhood of the Spirit.
Here is what you hear when you walk in the neighborhood of the Spirit:
- I receive forgiveness for all my sins – even the ones I have yet to commit.
- I accept that I am loved and treasured.
- I accept that I have the fullest expression of the favor of God already because of Christ.
- I am free from the pressure to have to get the blessings of God.
- I have full peace and the encouragement to never fear.
- I have the confidence and assurance of Him always being present with me.
- I am aware that I am without fault, without blame, and made holy.
- I am continually overwhelmed at more of the favor He has lavished on me.
This is the neighborhood we are invited to walk about in! We don’t deserve it. We couldn’t earn it. We don’t have it because of our best efforts. It is not ours because of our commitments.
It is ours in accepting apart from our efforts.
It is ours by faith.
Enjoy walking today!