Too often there is a disconnect between what we believe and how we live. There’s Sunday worship and there’s the rest of life. We know there ought to be a connection between the two. In fact, we know that there ought to be no real difference between the two.
In Psalm 86:11, we hear Asaph plead with God, “Teach me your ways, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth. Give me an undivided heart that I may fear your name.”
He has the sense of a divided heart within him and he longs to have a whole heart, a complete heart, a heart that is single in purpose and will and intention. He wants integration. He wants integrity. But he finds something else at play. Part of his heart goes one way and part of it goes another way.
This isn’t how we were made. This isn’t how God intends us to live our lives.
In the first half of the verse, it looks like Asaph has mixed his metaphors. Instead of pairing teaching with truth and walking with way/road — “Teach me your truth and I will walk in your ways” — he prays, “Teach me your ways, O Lord, and I will walk in your truth.”
But this is anything but a mixed metaphor. Asaph has something brilliant in mind.
He wants stories. He wants to see God in action. Because it’s by seeing God in action that he will come to understand how to live for himself.
When my oldest son was two years old, I worked for a while as a house framer. Every morning, I’d get up, put on my jeans, my yellow rain slicker, my tool belt, my boots, and my hat and lug my tools off to work. And so my son, every morning, put on his jeans, his yellow rain slicker, his tool belt, his boots, and his hat and pulled out his plastic tools in exact imitation of me. He watched me and copied me as he began figuring out what it means to be a man.
This is what Asaph is getting at. We watch God and we copy him. “Teach me your ways, O Lord.” This isn’t abstract theology. This is childlike faith. This is seeking to become the image of our Father.
As we are taught God’s ways, we learn to walk in his truth. What is true about God becomes a part of our living reality. As we walk it out, it becomes who we are. We become true people.
This is why I’m helping launch Everyday Theology. It’s all about looking at our lives. Looking at God in action, especially in that great Story of God, the Bible. And then copying what we see enacted by our Lord.
The old word we’ve used for this is discipleship. A disciple is both a learner (“teach me”) and a follower (“and I will walk”). As we are discipled by Jesus, we become more like him, more like his Father, more in step with his Spirit. We become the image-of-God people we were created to be in the first place.