We did it! We finished our study of Watchman Nee’s Sit, Walk, Stand. And… this will be the third post about the 67-page perspective on Ephesians. That tells you something right there. This little book packs a punch – and a meaningful one at that. There’s no way I can do it justice in a blog post, but I’ll try.
Nee artfully unpacks three distinct moments in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: (you guessed it) sit, walk, and stand. Each of these marks an essential aspect of the Christian life, each one a positioning towards God.
“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms…” (Eph 2:4-6, NIV)
I wrestled most with this section – mostly because it goes against every bit of my American upbringing and the over-achiever, gold-star-earner in me. I cannot earn God’s love. Let me say that again, I cannot earn God's love. He already has “great love” for me. He has already done everything for me through Christ. He even has “seated us with [Christ]” – note that this is a present statement. This isn’t something that’s coming up (“If I behave well and do the best I can…”). It is already: I am seated with Christ. Right now. Not only that, but I don’t even get the satisfaction of an active “sit” here (“Oh… well, if I can’t earn it, at least I will choose to sit – and I’ll sit up straight and listen to him closely”). Nope. God “seated” me – he grabs ahold of my striving to prove myself and sits me down. He tells me to rest... to rest on what he has done for me... to rest at the feet of Christ.
“I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called…” (Eph 4:1, ESV)
In light of this unearned sanctification, this resting in God’s love for us, God calls us to walk. To “make our way” or “to make due use of opportunities” … “to live” (these are all translations of the Greek word “peripateō” used here and again in 4:17). In his Walk chapter, Nee writes that “Nothing is so hurtful to the life of a Christian as acting” (Nee 28). When we pretend we have it all together, acting like we have no need for forgiveness, no need to lean on others for support… we aren’t walking. It’s like a pantomime of walking. We have studied the right technique – one foot, then the other – but we aren’t actually going anywhere. We’re missing the entire point of walking. In the same way, when we only act like Christians, we aren’t really living like Christians. It's only when we cease to act and actually embrace each other (and each other’s positions as also already seated with Christ), that we can live Christ-like lives, carrying out God’s will for this broken world.
“Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm them…” (Eph 6:13-14, NIV)
When I’ve read these verses in the past, I’ve gotten swept up in the image of “put[ting] on the full armor of God.” In my mind, I am gearing up for battle, speeding into Wonder-Woman-like action as I get ready to fight the good fight. Nee tears down my (admittedly egotistical) fantasy when he writes “The word ‘stand’ implies that the ground disputed by the enemy is really God’s, and therefore ours. … Our task is one of holding, not of attacking.… In the person of Jesus Christ, God has already conquered. He has given us his victory to hold,” (Nee 42-43). We are not on the offense, like my Wonder Woman dreams assumed – we are defending God’s kingdom. We are standing firm, holding the victory that Christ gained for us in the cross.
But how in the world do we hold this precious victory? (Spoiler alert, it’s not with a sweet lasso move.) We hold God’s victory by ceasing to merely act like Christians. This means living our lives together, holding each other accountable, and recognizing our common position of rest in God’s unbelievable love for us.
- Katherine Ey