I used the illustration the other day that the Christian walk is like walking on a tight rope. The more I think of this illustration, the more I find it to be true. Let’s consider some of the elements for a moment. One must have courage to walk a tight rope. They must have faith, confidence, a sense of security, the trust in the feel of their feet to know the balance and placement of the rope. As we are told, one must not look down but keep their eyes focused straight ahead. Then there are the onlookers. Those that are waiting and watching for the person walking the tight rope to fall, shake, make a wrong movement. Others watch in anticipation and hope that the person makes it safely to the other side. They wring their hands and pray. Their palms get sweaty and they are nervous. When the person looks shaky, they have to turn away.
All of the elements are true in the Christian walk. We are called to be bold, strong, courageous, filled with faith and trust. Not ourselves or our abilities but in God himself. Scripture calls Jesus our lifeline, the plumb line of righteousness in other locations. In order to walk the very narrow path of the tight rope of the Christian walk, one must be focused and committed. It is not a path that we take for granted or rush into. I’ve seen people run. They don’t run too straight, legs flailing all over, arms flapping like a bird and shall I say none of it looks all that graceful. It would be very misguided to approach the Christian walk that way on a tight rope. Haphazardly is not how we remain holy. It’s hard to be holy even when we are trying. The world throws all sorts of things at us. Drivers pulling out in front of us, neighbors mowing their grass early Saturday morning, the first day you can sleep-in in weeks. REALLY! OF ALL DAYS! The list is continuous and wide. Oh yeah! The guy walking in the High Wire just grabbed a unicycle! What was he thinking? What! Oncoming traffic on a high wire? A person starts from the other end; this isn’t going to end well.
So how do they do it? They practice many hours every day and in many conditions. They check their equipment continuously. They are looking for any weakness or any element that could undo them and send them into peril. Are we as diligent in our Christian walk? Are we seeking to be Christ-like in our daily lives? Are we reading our scripture, studying it, applying what we have learned? Do we make it a priority to be proficient to walk the walk?
Yet, we have people coming to watch us walk the walk and hoping that we fall off the Christian walk, the high wire. We have people that come and watch and pray we make it safe to the other side. But the Church is not the Circus. Stop and think about this a moment. The Church is not the Circus. The Church is called to help every person walk the tight rope, the narrow path. The Church is to help us to practice walking the Christian walk. At first it is a piece of tape on the floor. Then it is a 2×4 on edge. A raised solid level surface, one and a half inches wide. We put a person on each side of you, holding your hands to help you walk across. We do this over and over, until only one person is beside you and then you are walking on your own across the edge of the board. Then we raise the bar. We keep making it harder and harder as you progress. It is not to cause you to fail or fall, but it is to make you holy, trusting and confident in the God that loves you and never will leave you. As a Church are we helping people become proficient in the Christian walk? The Church is not a Circus but we definitely have a very tight rope to walk in a world that expects us to fall. Walk worthy of the high calling of God.
The writer is the pastor of Immanuel UCC in Kettlersville and St. Peter’s Church in New Bremen.