This is how we know we are in him: Whoever claims to live in him must walk as Jesus did. –1 John 2:5b-6
I had a student, Matt, not long ago who announced, over the first couple of days of the class, that he had been in the Marines. Obviously, in his early twenties, Matt couldn’t have been in the Marines for all that long if he had already put it behind him, but I welcomed the news. Although I’ve experienced former Marines who were a bit difficult to get along with, I generally find them to be disciplined and dependable. When they foul up, they generally admit it. I looked forward, therefore, to dealing with Matt the Marine.
I got over my admiration within a couple of weeks. A pleasant enough guy, he proved a sporadic attender. When he did show up for class, he frequently rushed in fifteen minutes late. Invariably, he would approach me after dismissal to apologize for his tardiness.
Generally, I’m a pretty easy-going guy on these matters. Things happen, of course. Between traffic and the oddities of life, anybody can have a late day. Show up late once, and I ignore it. Do it twice, and I’ll be mildly annoyed. Do it frequently, however, and I have no pity. That’s how I felt with Matt. If he truly felt bad coming in late, then he’d make sure to be on time.
When I mentioned Matt’s misdeeds to a former military friend of mine, he suggested that maybe Matt wasn’t really Marine material. Perhaps Matt got invited to leave the Corps. I don’t know if that’s the case at all, but I feel pretty confident that Matt wasn’t the poster child for the Marine perfection.
I’m too old to be a Marine, but I am not too old to learn to better walk like Jesus did. That’s a noble aspiration, but just how did Jesus walk? Barefoot? Quickly? With a limp? I hardly think that’s what John had in mind. The problem with this verse is that nobody can be entirely sure just how Jesus walked. Some would emphasize Jesus walk as a healer, while others would focus on his advocacy of the powerless. Some would point to his righteousness, while for others his iconoclasm is vital. Just how do we walk like Jesus walked.
This is where Matt the Marine can be a useful source. You see, as much as I might read about the Marine Corps, as many Marines as I might know, the only way for me to truly understand the way of the USMC is to sign up and go through the experiences that the Marines experience. I’d need to live among them, depending and sharing with them. If you haven’t marched with the Marines, then you really don’t fully understand them. Similarly, the only way for me to truly walk like Jesus is to walk with him as best I can. To understand Christ’s walk, we need to get close to him, to observe him, to know him. Then, like the Marines, we can hope to live up to the lofty motto, semper fidelis, always faithful.