Monday, July 27, 2009

The Jesus Way: A contrast with “The Ordinary Way”

In the first installment of this series I demonstrated from scripture that Jesus is the light, the truth, the way to live and the only road to eternal life.

Let's go back to something that Jesus said earlier. It's in John 10:7-10
Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Take a look at that last part again: "whoever enters through me will be saved". That’s the eternal life part. But notice this also: "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."

Jesus is contrasting The Ordinary Way of life alongside the way of life He is offering, that is, The Jesus Way. The Ordinary Way is to be stolen from or to be destroyed. The Jesus Way is to have life and that life to the full. The King James version and several other English versions translates that last sentence using the word "abundant." In other words, Jesus is saying that His Way is the abundant life.

Who are the thieves and robbers that Jesus is talking about here?

First of all, I suspect that Jesus was talking in this parable about the religious leaders of His day. They had abandoned faith in the God of Israel for religious practice. They had become hypocrites. Jesus said in Matthew 23 “So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.”

But I believe in a larger sense, Jesus is warning us about “the thief”, Satan. The devil has always offered a way of life apart from God. While the details are always being updated century after century to fit the times, there seems to always be a satanic strategy to lure people away from God with an appealing way of life that seems to work.

Now as you read what follows, please understand that there is no condemnation here from me. If you see your own past or present sin in what I am about to say, understand that I'm am no less guilty of sin in the eyes of God. Every sin separates you and me from our Holy God.

We all sin. We all fall short of God's glory but The Jesus Way offers a fresh start on the right road.

So…..what is The Ordinary Way? The Ordinary Way is to live according to the culture that surrounds us. In Churchspeak it’s “the way of the World.”

The Apostle Paul was blunt about The Ordinary Way in a letter to a church in what is now present day Turkey. This is in Galatians 5:19-21:
"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God."
Here are some of the features of The Ordinary Way of life.
  1. The Ordinary Way is doing what feels good regardless of the costs to self or others
  2. It's a life running hard after material wealth, a life that measures success by possessions
  3. It's a life of using people to get where we're going
  4. It's a life that puts negotiable value on children in the womb or the elderly
  5. It's a life of disposable relationships
  6. It’s a life filled with drama
Maybe you have been on The Ordinary Way. I have. Before I came to Christ I lived The Ordinary Way. As I look over these points, I see my old self in several places….even `tho I tried pretty hard to live a good life.

The reality is that some of my behavior was evil in God’s eyes. That’s the problem with The Ordinary Way.

There is a better way. It is the High Way of the King and I describe it and how to take this high way in the final part of this three part series.

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