Tuesday, August 23, 2011

In Lowly Paths of Service Free

when Jesus said, "I am the way . . .; no one comes to the Father except through me," (john 4:6) what did He mean?  did He mean that only those who are christians could have access to God?  do we correctly interpret this teaching when we assert that only christians can be "saved?"  what do we mean by "being saved?"  these are questions i think about daily.  recently i wrote of my evolving convictions about "true religion."  i am struggling to share my thoughts about what the truth is concerning our relationship with God and our relationships with one another.

i wonder as i think on the context of Jesus' teaching about being "the way" if He is not making a statement about the truth of His teaching when compared to the legalism of the prevailing jewish religion in roman palestine.  might Jesus be saying that the perversions of the law taught by the religious leaders is a false religion, but His way, as evidenced in His ministry and teachings, is the true path to God?  Could Jesus be saying that it is the law of love, not the law of twisted rules that enable one to act contrary to the law of love, that is the path that leads to God?

long ago i rejected the definitions of being "born again," of "being saved," as those phrases are used by conservative evangelical christians.  for me the notion of being born again or being saved simply means turning away from the seflishness of the past and commiting oneself to living a life of service, to making the needs of others as high a priority as one's own needs, to living in the light God gives each person.  when that commitment is made, we are new people who live a new reality, we are saved from lives of self-serving narrowness and reborn as servants of others.  we come to believe that "whoever would be great among [us] must become [a] servant." (mark 10:43)

for me, this is the path of true religion.  those who walk that path have been led to "the way" of which Jesus spoke.  that way is not a path that excludes those who are not christians.  instead, it is a path that admits all who pay the toll of abandoning a life of selfish pleasure in favor of a life of compassion for all who suffer.  my prayer this day is that we would each find our way along that path, picking up those along the way who have stumbled and need our help.

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