Wednesday 3 May 2023

The Way That I go

I believe. That’s a good place to start. I believe lots of things, but just at the moment, I want to say I believe that the Bible is about the Word (the "logos," in Greek, that wisdom, creativity and truth that was with God from the beginning), as told and written by people, inspired by the Spirit, and with the perspective of their own context.

That's my perspective, unique to me. Even if it has a label (the ubiquitous “christian,” though I’m not always happy with that) or others think that, too, it's still unique to me because I'm unique, as each of us is. I hope that perspective means that I come with an openness and receptivity to how the Word might speak to me. I hope and trust that I am always seeking what is true in the story because what is true is right, filled with love and grace, compassion and respect, for all creation. I hope, too, that's what I reflect in how I live, as best I can, acknowledging, like all of us, some very real moments of failure. That, I think, is my relationship with the Bible.

As an aside, I note that my relationship with the Bible includes a great deal of hope as well as perspective.

Coming to what is true is sometimes comforting, sometimes challenging, sometimes both, juxtaposed in a single story.  In John's gospel, when Jesus shares some final words with the disciples before his arrest, I think he senses their anxiety, their fear of Jesus leaving them. So he begins with words of comfort: "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?" (John 14:1-2) Comforting words to remind the disciples, and us, that we shouldn't be afraid, there's a place for us with God, in this life and whatever else there is. There are many places, even, because God's love and grace is for all. All.

In seeking what is true I think we might also hear inclusivity in words that follow a few verses later, words that have so often been used to exclude. Jesus tells them the way to this place of comfort: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6). Perhaps there was a time when we could hear this with the chest-thumping, finger-pointing exclusivity of "the only way."  Certainly it would have been helpful for the disciples and the earliest christians to hear strong words of reinforcement when things were hard. But in our vast, complex, multicultural world, I wonder if this is a moment to wonder at the life, not the label.

I believe the "me" Jesus describes is "the way, and the truth, and the life." Not the other way around. It's why the earliest followers of Jesus referred to themselves as The People of the Way. It's The Way that's most important. They lived the life Jesus taught in living his life: The Way is true and life-giving. The Way is inclusive. The Way is open to all. 

This is why I believe that we all come to God by our own path, our own spiritual or faith tradition. I love Jesus and my way is with Jesus, but even among the followers of Jesus, we learn about The Way in a variety of ways, from different denominations and different traditions. The Way is love, by whatever name it’s known.