If you’ve been around the church very long, you’ve heard the Christian terminology of having a “personal relationship with Jesus.” This is how we describe our interaction with Jesus, and in that phrase we find some really great truths. We find that we have more than a casual acquaintanceship with Jesus; that’s it’s a relationship. And like any relationship, it can be deep or shallow. It needs to be nurtured. We also find that the relationship is personal. We don’t enter into to it because of our association with a group or because we have a membership card. We come into because something has happened to us individually, as persons. But here’s the interesting thing: When the Bible describes how we interact with Jesus, we don’t find the term anywhere in its pages. The Bible never talks about a “personal relationship with Christ.” Sure, the ideas are there, but the terminology is absent. Instead, when the Bible talks about what we have with Jesus, we find a single word: Walk.
Isn’t it interesting that this is the word the Bible uses? Take a look at Micah 6:8:
“He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
Or consider the book of Ephesians, where Paul uses the word 6 times to describe how a Christ-follower is supposed to live with Jesus: “Walk worthy. Walk in love. Walk in good works.”
But to me, the most intriguing usage of the word comes in Genesis 5:21 about a curious character we know very little about:
“When Enoch had lived 65 years, he became the father of Methuselah. And after he became the father of Methuselah, Enoch walked with God 300 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enoch lived 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God; then he was no more, because God took him away.”
Genesis 5 is a genealogy, and it lists the descendants of Adam to Noah. And here’s the pattern the book takes: You have the name of a person—Enosh, Kenan, Jared, Seth, whoever—and when that person had lived however many years, he became the father of another person. And then after he became the father of another person, he lived so many more years. And altogether, he lived this many years, and then he died. This is the pattern. Except with Enoch.
These other characters lived. But not Enoch. Enoch didn’t live; he walked. That was the description of his life; not just living but walking with God. And while all the other characters died, Enoch was no more because God took him away. What a remarkable way to describe the life and end of a man. In fact, so remarkable was Enoch’s life, that hundreds and hundreds of years later, the writer of Hebrews in the New Testament looked back at it and said this in Hebrews 11:5:
“By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death; he could not be found, because God had taken him away. For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God.”
Apparently, there is a way you can live in which you don’t just live – you walk. And this is God’s intent for all of us who are in Christ. It’s to live in such a way that’s so different – so distinctive – that you can’t even describe it as “living” any more.
The Hebrew word for walk used in Genesis 5 indicates much more than just a journey. It means, “Human locomotion without any indication of destination.” The picture in Hebrew is of a person who is moving forward, one step at a time, but is consumed with the journey itself. That’s way different than our relationship to Jesus is many times. If we’re honest, we would have to say that much of our relationship with God is dependent on our circumstances. We have big questions about life for God, and we want answers: “Who am I going to marry? What am I going to study? How many kids am I going to have? Is there another job for me?” So our “walk” with God, becomes consumed by those things. We become like a little kid riding in the back of the minivan kicking the seat of our father crying out, “Are we there yet?”
But Enoch? Enoch walked. He was so consumed with his companion on the journey that it didn’t really matter where they were going, because with every step, he was already getting to his companion. With every step, he was drawing closer and closer to God. I think that’s what the last line of the text in question means. It’s as if Enoch and God were walking along together, as they always did, and God looked at Enoch and said, “You know, we’re actually closer to my house than we are to yours today. Why don’t you just come on home with me?”
We are to walk with God. That is the journey of intimacy. It is a journey where you are so engrossed in the relationship that you become person-oriented rather than destination-oriented because the person is the destination. That’s the invitation God is extending to us in Christ: “Walk with me. Walk deeply with me. Let me permeate every part of who you are. And let’s go somewhere together. Along the way, we’ll talk. We’ll laugh. We’ll cry. But with each step, have faith that I am making you into who I want you to be. And one day, we’ll walk all the way to my house. And we’ll have dinner there together.”