Culture Devotion

Walking in a Straight Line (in Love)

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Written by Pr. Phil Booe

A while ago, I watched an interesting YouTube video about our inability as humans to walk in a straight line without a reference point. I know, it doesn’t sound very interesting, but it was. Check it out for yourself.

Here’s what it was about:

In the 1920’s, a scientist named Issa Shaeffer wanted to perform an experiment. He and a friend went out to a big, empty field, and Issa asked his friend to put on a blindfold. He then told him to simply walk in a straight line–as straight as he can across the field. The man started off fine, but then began to veer to the right. This veer became more and more sharp until the man had walked in several circles eventually ending when he ran into a stump, close to where he began, all the while thinking he was walking in a straight line.

The video also gives another example. In 1928, three people walked out of a barn on a very foggy day. They began walking as straight as they could headed for a point about a half-mile away. While they were walking, they thought they had been heading in a straight line toward their destination. What they didn’t realize (because of the dense fog) was that they had begun to walk in circles. They only discovered this sometime much later when they ended up, oddly enough, at the exact same barn they started from.

As it turns out, we human beings actually lack the ability to travel very far in a straight line when we do not have any point of reference, like a mountain top, or landmark, or a star to guide us.

This got me to thinking. This very thing also applies to humans when it comes to living a godly life and following the so-called straight and narrow. In fact, one Greek word for sin literally means to miss the mark. Miss what mark? Well, we are missing the target God has established for us, whether it be in the things we think, say, or do.

How many times have you strived to resist sin, only for it to find you again and again. How many times have you tried to pick up your Bible to begin a devotion schedule, only to wander away from it. And for those who do not even strive to live as God intended, how true it is that they are walking in pure darkness, thinking that they are sinless, thinking that they have everything under control, but in reality they could not be more lost.

Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians 4:17, wrote,

“You must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.”

Those are some pretty strong words, Words from God about those who do not believe. Their thinking is darkened, they are ignorant, they have hardened their hearts and thus are separated from the Life of God. It’s like they’re walking in thick fog; trying to walk in a straight line, but they cannot help but miss the mark with nothing to guide them.

Even stronger in this passage is the message that the Holy Spirit is giving Christians. Remember this letter is to believers and Paul is clear: “You must no longer walk as these sinners do…” For those of us who have been called to faith, the fog has been lifted, we no longer walk in the darkness of ignorance, but we walk in the light of faith and knowledge of Christ.

Now if a human cannot even walk in a straight line without a point of reference, it is so much more true that we cannot walk a path of righteousness without a light to guide us. That light is the light of Christ.

In Ephesians 5:1-2, Paul urges us,

Be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Are you walking in love with your fellow Christian today? Or have you fallen into the temptation of being a worldling, blending in with unbelievers in the way you speak and act?

If your walk has been less than loving and, let’s face it, at some point each one of us has not loved our neighbors as ourselves, then know that God still loves you.

As the Scripture says, “Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant sacrifice and offering to God.” That’s why we are to walk in love with one another – because the creator of all that exists loved us, he gave himself up for us, and so we now – as imitators of Christ – walk in love and give up ourselves for one another.

So, there’s really no trick to walking in a straight line: that is, if you focus on something ahead of you. The same goes for our spiritual lives. The best way to ensure that our paths are straight is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus and the wisdom that only comes to us through Scripture. Only then can our lives be pleasing to God and beneficial to each other.

About the author

Pr. Phil Booe

The Rev. Dr. Phil Booe is a husband to Becky and father to Alex and Katie. Originally from North Carolina, he currently serves as pastor of St. John Lutheran Church in Luverne, Minnesota (LCMS). He holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Western Carolina University, an M.Div. from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and a D.Min. from Bethel University in Congregational Counseling and Catechetics.

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