When ancient Israel left Egypt some almost 3500 years ago or so, it was pretty clear that they did a lot of walking in the process of leaving Egypt and making their slow way to the promised land. While God bore them on eagle’s wings, that did not mean for them that they were traveling via flight, whatever that might mean for us in the future. When we think of the updated metaphor of leaving the world, though, it is easy for us to live in the metaphor and not think of the sort of practical steps that are involved in this process by which we live differently from the world and move towards the Kingdom of God.
While our retired pastor had quite a lot to say about the practical side of this picture, I thought I would focus on the phenomenon of living in the metaphor, not least because I tend to find myself to be the sort of person who can very comfortably dwell in the abstract and in the theoretical and not necessarily deal with the practical application of such theories. That is not to say that such practical applications are absent, only that as a person I am perfectly content to dwell more or less inside my mind and not necessarily think about what sort of practical changes result from what I think or believe. I do not think that this is necessarily an unusual phenomenon, though it is not necessarily one that is the most helpful.
To the extent that we are truly believe in something, what we believe in will have an effect on our behavior, whether or not we are intentionally seeking to live consistently with our belief systems or not. We might obviously think that intentionality is to be preferred to non-intentionality, but it is worth reflecting on the fact that even without trying to our beliefs have consequences. Either the beliefs will undermine actions we would have taken otherwise or they lead us to take actions that demonstrate our commitments. Faith without works is dead, and that is the case regardless of what we have our faith in.
How often do we think about the metaphors we live in? I suspect that a great many people have not spent a great deal of time examining the sort of belief systems that they have or the analogies that they use to govern the way that they see life. It is common to see people act in ignorance of the most basic aspects of reality because they have in their head that something is like something else or their life or existence is like something that is simply not the case. Yet it does not serve us well to be too harsh on others as we may often find that we do not endure a great deal of scrutiny ourselves and may fare just as badly or even worse what we may criticize others for. Such is often, the case, though.