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A holy manikin—NOT!

Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 5:16 NASB)

My mama is a great walker. An avid hiker, she couldn’t imagine a day passing without a good striding walk or hike. Now, at 98, she’s one of two walking women in the skilled nursing facility. Using her walker, she strides around and will even run a few steps playfully.

Mama passed her love of walking on to me. When I get out from under a ceiling and the world opens up, my body wants to move. My arms and legs literally rejoice when I’m striding off, especially where dramatic clouds or mountains are visible. It’s getting so I have to walk, as I age. If I sit too long, my body turns into a piece of plywood, and I sense that I will lose physical capability if I don’t keep myself moving every day. When weather, darkness, or solitude are uninviting, I have a half-ton treadmill in my home office named Monster.

Commands to “walk” in Scripture speak to me. Although where I “sit” is über-important, I’m glad that God didn’t leave us with “sitting” as the operative verb for Christian life. Throughout the Old Testament, God’s people are urged to grasp a life in motion, walking in the ways of the Lord. Two examples out of hundreds:

“Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him.” (Deuteronomy 8:6 NASB, Moses speaking on the eve of the Israelites crossing the Jordan) “May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us, that He may incline our hearts to himself, to walk in all His ways…” (1 Kings 8:57-58a NASB, Solomon blessing the Israelites when he dedicated the temple to God)

Paul “implored” believers “to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called” (Ephesians 4:1 NASB). What is that calling? Lots to say about that, but here’s a purpose statement that compels me:

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 NASB)

It doesn’t surprise me that a God who likens the created world to a garden and we Adams and Eves to gardeners tending it, had good works in mind all along. Dead works are not cool—they’re the kind of works Paul warns us against in Ephesians 2:8-9. But living works, the works of the alive Jesus-follower—those are worth pursuing!

Sometimes we stop short of good works because we believe that God’s rest for us precludes working. We’re holy in Christ and isn’t this the whole goal of faith? Think of the church—the beautiful bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:27, Revelation 21:2). On the other hand, what bride wants to be stuck in the wedding and reception for life, sitting in her perfect dress, with her hair in the perfect up-do? No, she wants to get on with the work of being a wife. She certainly doesn’t want to be a beautiful manikin with nothing to do.

Jesus was no holy manikin. He was conscious of the work He came to do—His unusual task, His extraordinary work (Isaiah 28:21). He bids us follow in His steps, where our good works illuminate our holy core, where God lives. I’m not a holy manikin. I’m a good-deed doer. And God will be known to the world through this.

Jani can be reached by email here.

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