Where You Once Walked

Man tripping with food and drink

Ministry of Silly Walks

Although I didn’t really watch much Monty Python while it was being actively created, I have found a lot of what I have seen pretty funny. Now, by mentioning that show it doesn’t mean I recommend Christians imbibe it indiscriminately. They were talented comedians, but not apparently Christian ones…and there is some material that likely falls afoul of Psalm 101:3-4:

3  I will not set before my eyes

anything that is worthless.

I hate the work of those who fall away;

it shall not cling to me.

4  A perverse heart shall be far from me;

I will know nothing of evil.

In either case, one skit worth viewing is “The Ministry of Silly Walks.” Per Wikipedia:

“The Ministry of Silly Walks” is a sketch from the Monty Python comedy troupe’s television show Monty Python’s Flying Circus, episode 14, which is entitled “Face the Press”. The episode first aired in 1970. A shortened version of the sketch was performed for Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl. This sketch involves John Cleese as a bowler hatted civil servant in a fictitious British government ministry responsible for developing Silly Walks through grants. Cleese, throughout the sketch, walks in a variety of silly ways. It is these various silly walks, more than the dialogue, that has earned the sketch its popularity.1

Since my sermons are presently only audio, I cannot give you a visual…especially since I have long legs and would knock stuff over in the room I’m preaching this in. 🙂

But it is funny…and came to mind with today’s sermon entitled “Where You Once Walked”—the 7 in an 11-part series on the book of Colossians.

[ These are quick sermon notes…not cleaned-up…and missing the "extras" that come out in the audio (which is available here). All quotes are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted. ]

Walking Through Colossians

Why did it come to mind? Well, let’s “walk” through Colossians quickly to answer that. 🙂

Please open your Bibles to that book. [Wait for people to get there.]

How many chapters does Colossians have? [4]

Walking in Chapter 1

Now, I don’t know if it was intentional…but every one of those chapters has a “walk” verse. For instance, please turn to Colossians 1:9-10:

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.

How are you supposed to walk?

That’s right, “in a manner worthy of the Lord.”

And that is no small thing, is it. However, I can assure you Paul would have not prayed that the church in Colossea “be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” if it wasn’t possible.

For them…or for you and me.

So, chapter one tells us to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord”…and we can do it.

Walking in Chapter 2

How about chapter two? What can we learn about walking in it? Verses 6 and 7 tell us:

6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving (Colossians 2:6-7).

From Colossians chapter 2 we learn that not only are we to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, we are “walk in him.” “Walk in him” seems a bit of an odd expression to me, and I really liked the way Robert Wall in Colossians & Philemon explained it:

In contrast, the next phrase, continue to live in him, is stated in the imperative mood, asserting the behavior that logically and necessarily must result from the theological conviction that Jesus Christ is the Lord of all things. Among aboriginal people in Australia, males go on a “walk-about” as part of their rite of passage into manhood: they travel alone across their land to become familiar with it and thus a part of it. The Greek word for live (peripateō) literally means to “walk about.” According to Paul, our trust in the received gospel of God’s grace through Christ results in a “walk about” in him; we become familiar with him and a part of him. The apostle often sets indicative statements about God’s salvation next to imperative statements about our response to God in order to show their close, even logical relationship. To embrace the truth about God’s Christ is to live in him.2

I suppose some of the appeal of Wall’s description of “walk in him” (or, as said in the translation he was commenting on, “continue to live in him”)…is because I spent a couple of years working in Australia and have fond memories of that great country and its people. However, even putting aside that positive prejudice Wall’s explanation helps me understand what a Christian life is supposed to be like with the Lord. We need to “‘walk about’ in him; we become familiar with him and a part of him.” What’s kind of neat is it also then connects with Jesus’ prayer 2,000 years ago specifically for you and me:

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me (John 17:20-23).

We need to “walk in him”…become so familiar with Him…and so like Him…that we can be “in” the Godhead…to be one with the One who made atonement…the at-one-ment…possible with the cross.

Now, that’s a walk about I can really get into!

Walking in Chapter 4

As we continue…

Can I say “walk about”?

As we continue our walk about in Colossians, let’s look at Colossians 4:5-6:

5 Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

So…with this addition…our walk about in Colossians has given us:

  • Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord
  • Walk in Him
  • Walk in wisdom toward outsiders

When you consider these three admonitions, how is your “walk with the Lord”?

Do you always walk in a manner worthy or the Lord? Do you always walk in Him? Do you always walk in wisdom toward the outsiders?

Most of the time?

Some of the time?

Errr…not so much?

Please keep your answers in mind as we continue our walk about in Colossians…

Walking in Chapter 3

I started of this section of my talk saying each chapter has a “walk” verse…yet I jumped (not walked) from chapter two to chapter four. How about chapter three? What’s its “walk” verse?

Well…I saved it because today’s part of Colossians is in chapter three, and its “walk” verse is right in the middle of today’s selection, which we’ll read together right now:

3 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all (Colossians 3:1-11, emphasis mine).

Did you catch the “walk” verse?

Unlike the other three it wasn’t a command to walk a certain way…instead it was a admonition to not return to walking an old way…the way the “old self” walked.

Paul says to “put to death what is earthly in you,” lists some of those earthly characteristics…and then reminds the Colossians…and us…that “in these [we] too once walked, when [we] were living in them.”

Notice “were” is past tense.

We were living in them…we once walked in them…but…

We do not live in them now and we do not walk in them now.

Or do we? Did you pay attention to his “we don’t” list before and after “In these you once walked, when you were living in them”?

  • Sexual immorality
  • Impurity
  • Passion
  • Evil desire
  • Covetousness
  • Anger
  • Wrath
  • Malice
  • Slander
  • Obscene talk
  • Lying

A short while ago I asked you if, how your walk with the Lord is when you consider Colossians’ admonitions to:

  • Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord
  • Walk in Him
  • Walk in wisdom toward outsiders

Now that you have a larger list of things not to walk in…how do you fare?

I can’t imagine anyone listening is wrestling with all of them, but I do suspect there are some entries that loop in a bunch of us. Do you lie? Do you use coarse words or tell dirty jokes? Do you ever back-bite people? Do you have unhealthy anger toward anyone? Do you gossip? Are you having sex outside marriage? Do you wish ill on someone else who wronged you? Do you really, really want something…and it’s not the Lord?

Then…in those respects…and maybe overall…you are not walking in a manner worthy of the Lord…

You are not walking in Him…

And you are not walking in wisdom toward outsiders (who see your unworthy walk outside of “Him”).

Don’t Do It!

Now, this part of Colossians is not the only place that the Bible, or even Paul, gives a list of ways a saved person should behave.

Some short…and some long.

For instance, Ephesians 5:3-4:

3 But sexual immorality and all impurity or covetousness must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints. 4 Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.

Sound familiar? A walk worthy of the Lord does not include sexual immorality, impurity, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talk, or crude joking.

Sticking with Paul, Galatians 5:16-22 gives us another long list:

16 But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. 17 For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. 19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

Look at that…we’ve got another “walk” verse!

We need to:

  • Walk in a manner worthy of the Lord
  • Walk in Him
  • Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, and…
  • Walk by the Spirit

And if we do we won’t gratify the desires of the flesh…and won’t practice the works of the flesh like:

  • Sexual immorality
  • Impurity
  • Sensuality
  • Idolatry
  • Sorcery
  • Enmity
  • Strife
  • Jealousy
  • Fits of anger
  • Rivalries
  • Dissensions
  • Divisons
  • Envy
  • Drunkenness
  • Orgies

How do you do with that list? Especially if you add Paul’s final entry “and things like these”?

And Paul is not alone in providing a list like this. Turning to Mark 7:20-23:

20 And he said, “What comes out of a person is what defiles him. 21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, 22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.”

Again we’ve got some common items (for example, we humans clearly have a problem with sexual immorality and coveting)…but did Jesus loop you in with new ones like evil thoughts, theft, envy, pride, or foolishness?

That’s Not Me!

Those lists are horrendous, aren’t they?

But that’s not us!

We once walked in these things…back when we lived in them.

But that’s not us!

And why don’t we live in them anymore?

Heading back to today’s verses:

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory (Colossians 3:1-4).

We do not walk in them anymore because we have been raised with Christ and seek the things that are above…we set our minds on the things that are above, not on things that are on earth. We have died; our life is hidden with Christ in God. Christ is our life.

  • We walk in a manner worthy of the Lord
  • We walk in Him
  • We walk in wisdom toward outsiders
  • We walk by the Spirit

And as such when Christ comes we also will appear with Him in glory!

6 We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 7 For one who has died has been set free from sin. 8 Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. 10 For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. 11 So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:6-11).

We have put off our old self; we are no longer enslaved to sin; we have been set free from sin; we live with him…

We are dead to sin and alive in God in Christ Jesus.

Ministry of Silly Walks

What I just did was an exercise in positive thinking, right? I mean…did you hear it…like I said it…knowing full well how short you come from the mark?

The good news is that our Lord knows how weak we are, and does not expect our “walk about” in Him to result in perfection overnight. Additionally…

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

But, we have to remember that although our forgiving, faithful, cleansing Lord has produced many godly ministries here on earth, the vast majority of the world is a Ministry of Silly Walks.

The vast majority of the world is a Ministry of Silly Walks…

They want you to walk their silly way. They will tempt you to walk their silly way. They will encourage you to walk their silly way. They will bribe you to walk their silly way. They will brow-beat you to walk their silly way. They will deceive you to walk their silly way. They will punish you to walk their silly way.

And they have a whole smorgasbord of walks to offer.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few (Matthew 7:13-4).

The world has a whole smorgasbord of walks to offer.

They are not walks worthy of Him.

They are not walks in Him.

They are not walks that are wise toward outsiders.

They are not walks by the Spirit.

They are walks that we used to walk.

There is a way that seems right to a man,

but its end is the way to death (Proverbs 14:12).

They are walks that lead to death.

They are silly walks.

Deadly silly.

Dear least important church, don’t go back to the silly walks you used to walk…

Footnotes

1The Ministry of Silly Walks. (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved January 12, 2014, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Ministry_of_Silly_Walks

2Wall, R. W. (1993). Colossians & Philemon (Col 2:6). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.


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