Galatians 5:25 – Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit. (NIV)
There is an ancient proverb, reputedly of Chinese origin, which says, "The longest journey begins with a single step." I often think of it when I face a daunting task, like sorting through a huge pile of papers that has accumulated on my desk, or answering a long queue of e-mail inquiries. Looking at the pile or the queue and doing nothing (procrastinating) will get me nowhere closer to the completion of the task, but reading the first paper or answering the first e-mail letter moves me one step closer to the goal of a job finished.
The life that a Christian is called to live is a journey, in which each of us is summoned by the Spirit of God to run, to walk, to move along the path marked out for us by Christ's steps. Our salvation from sin is not a sedentary security in which we are snatched up and set on a shelf safely; rather we are effectively empowered to forge our way forward into the will and way of God mapped and laid out before us. Valleys, mountains, and other twists and turns in the track are not to be avoided but navigated, one step at a time, one step after the other, and always in step with Him who dwells in us and who walks with us.
Mindful that yesterday was marked by many Christians as Reformation Day, we could do well to remember that the reform of the Christian Church appeared to our forebears in the faith a journey long and daunting, and yet was faced by faithful followers of Christ in the spirit of this ancient proverb, as they sought each day to take a single step forward. Wycliffe set his mind to the translation of yet another verse and another chapter of the Scriptures, persevering until his death. Luther set down thesis after thesis, until he had 95 to nail to the church door for all to read and ponder. Calvin preached his way through chapter after chapter and book after book of the Bible, feeding the flock in Geneva who were growing firm in Christ and going forth to change the world. Knox faced controversy after controversy, one day at a time, all the while keeping his eye fixed on Christ, fearing the face of no one.
The long road of the renewing of the church in our day and generation, and the road of renewal in our own individual lives, lie before us. The destination will not be reached in a day, but each single step in which we walk by faith in the Son of God in the company of the Spirit of God, leads us closer to the goal: a holy life, a healthy church, the sight of the heavenly city.
Prayer: Give us faith, O Lord, to take a single step today to walk on the way of our pilgrimage. Help us each to step forward, following Christ, and lead Your church together to become one bit more the body You are forming and reforming us to be. In the name of Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.