Sit, Walk, Stand
Soft Cover, 80 pages
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Sit, Walk, Stand is a short book which aims to treat the progression in Ephesians from our relationship to the completed work of Christ, the nature of our growth and action in the world, to the spiritual warfare in which we make use of the authority we possess in the name of Christ. Each step in this progression makes use of a single word to cement the concept:
- Sit describes our position of dependence on the complete work of Jesus, which provides foundation for the remaining steps.
- Walk describes the action of conforming ourselves to Christ’s image, living with the full understanding that our old self is dead and buried in Christ; that we are new, with the power based on our position to respond to God’s voice.
- And finally, Stand declares our position of victory and the need to recognize that spiritual warfare is executed from that position of victory – an act of holding the ground Christ has already won, not allowing Satan to gain territory in our lives, and approaching prayer with faith based on our understanding of God’s will and our conformity to it.
Nee’s text is easy to read, and his wording well-matched to the topic. With his insight into the work of Christ, he is able to bring a number of metaphors and images together into a complete package. Though the book is quite short, in just a few words Nee is able to explain our life in Christ better than most other more “wordy” books on discipleship and spiritual growth. And the pastoral experience of calling believers into a deeper commitment to Christ seeps into the pages calling for practical response to the Bible and the word of God. This is not a heady or theoretical treatise on discipleship or the Church. It is a directed infusion of spiritual energy into the bloodstream of the church.
I am overwhelmingly impressed by his use of illustrations in this book. In many cases, illustrations intent on shedding light on Biblical truth lack the power to move texts forward. Too many authors offer illustrations that share too much detail, causing the reader to lose the simple truth needing to be expressed. And too many illustrations are simply too complex to really do justice, or have lost something in transmission from source to page. Nee’s illustrations are powerhouses, concise little motors that propel the reader on to understanding. One example that was particularly striking is on page 21:
A brother in South China had a rice field in the middle of the hill. In time of drought he used a waterwheel, worked by a treadmill, to lift water from the irrigation stream into his field. His neighbors had two fields below his, and, one night, made a breach in the dividing bank and drained off all his water. When the brother repaired the breach and pumped in more water his neighbor did the same thing again, and this was repeated three or four times. So he consulted his brethren. “I have tried be patient and not to retaliate,” he said, “but is it right?” After they had prayed together about it, one of them replied, “If we only try to do the right thing, surely we are very poor Christians. We have to do something more than what is right.” The brother was much impressed. Next morning he pumped water for the two fields below, and in the afternoon pumped water for his own field. After that the water stayed in his field. His neighbor was so amazed at his action that he began to inquire the reason, and in course of time he, too, became a Christian.
With such a compelling image he was able to show the difference between seeking what is right or just, and seeking Christ himself. Such a walk that puts Christ as our guide, rather than rules, requirements, expectations of justice and fairness won’t be met by all with approval, but I think is a compelling response to a worldview that clings to its “rights” and exalts in the special status of being a “victim”.
And while this book was written in shortly after World War II, I was struck in a number of places by the ease with which Nee’s text could be translated to the world today. Written in a time of greater openness to the gospel in China, before the political upheavals that pushed the church underground, there is much that finds proximity with our own time and place:
Too many of us are caught acting like Christians. The life of many Christians today is largely a pretense. They live in a “spiritual” life, talk a “spiritual” language, adopt “spiritual” attitudes, but they are doing the whole thing themselves. It is the effort involved that should reveal to them that something is wrong… (p. 27)
I give this book ★★★★☆. Nee brings Ephesians home, illustrating vividly our position in Christ, our call in Christ, and our victory in Christ.