In Another Land, the final album of Larry Norman’s famed trilogy, has a catchy little track on the CD reissue called
Looking for the Footprints. The lyrics are simple:
Looking for the footprints of the man who wears the sandals. If you’ve heard it, you’ll remember. If not, buy yourself a copy! That one-line song encompasses the struggle of anyone trying to live 1 John 2:6.
Being a proud Canadian, the idea of sandals doesn’t resonate much. For me, it’s snowshoes. Sure, Jesus allegedly wore sandals more often than snowshoes, but let’s use our imagination here.
I went camping a few winters ago with a couple friends in mid-February. I don’t mean drive-to-a-cabin-with-a-wood-stove camping, either. We left for two nights in the woods with nothing but what fit on our backs. We hit the trail in perfect conditions. The temperature was just below freezing, and the sky was overcast. (The last thing you want when winter camping is too much heat—it makes you sweat, which makes you damp, which makes you cold.)
As we started walking, the snow started falling. With each hour that passed, the trail got thicker and thicker with white powder. By the time we made camp, there was 8 inches of fresh snow on the trail.
That trip taught me the joy of being second or third in line. The first person in line had to break through fresh snow with every step. After a half hour, that person’s legs felt like jelly and we swapped positions so a fresh pair of legs could break.
What a great metaphor for following Jesus,
the pioneer [read: trailblazer] and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2, NRSV).
. . .
Walking in his footsteps is a more inclusive way of repeating what John said three times already in this paragraph (vv. 3-6):
obey his commandments/word. But this walking just as he walked is no mere synonym—it is far deeper, as metaphors always are.
Metaphors always speak louder than propositions. You can
keep the commandments while having nothing close to a relationship with God—but you can’t walk that way. (Let me offer my sincere apologies to anyone who now has a certain Aerosmith song running through their head.) Stott sums this up well:
We cannot claim to live in him unless we behave like him.
To put it in Canadian terms, we can’t claim to be part of a fellowship of campers if we’re always breaking away and making our own divergent trails through the snow.
. . .
There’s an important word in the beginning of this verse that I haven’t spoke of yet. When you look at frequency charts of how the word is used, you’ll see what an important concept it is for John. The word is menō, which is often translated
This is what we have full right to claim when we follow Jesus’ tracks: we actually live
in Christ, to use Paul’s common expression. I think of the time when Paul quoted the Greek poets in Athens:
In him we live and move and have our being. (Acts 17:28, NRSV)
This word is used 24 times in 1 John alone, so we’ll have many more opportunities to consider its meaning. For now, just consider our privilege: we can claim to exist in Christ. In the lyrics of Marie Barnett,
This is the air I breathe . . .
And that all-encompassing life-in-Christ is proven—demonstrated—when we follow his tracks.