The Way: Jesus

Here are some more thoughts that have touched us from The Way by E. Stanley Jones. If you want some backgound on this book, please see my earlier blog about it.

Here’s something he wrote about God:

If I were to sit down and try to think out the kind of God I would like to see in the universe, I couldn’t come up with anything higher than that He should be like Christ.

Me too! Strange how Jesus still gets a ninety percent favorability rating in the United States and the God that religion presents gets blamed for disasters and bashed for being a bully. And you know what, God is just like Jesus. He loves broken humanity and seeks to rescue men and women from all the places they got lost in the world and draw them back to his house as beloved children. That’s what Jesus showed us in his humility, compassion, truthfulness, and graciousness. Jesus is a far better representation of God than anything religion has produced.

So why don’t people believe? Many say that it is because they have not seen him and want proof that he exists. E. Stanley Jones wrote:

       The person who want this proved to them is like a person who stands with their back to the sunset while I describe its breath-taking beauty. They say, “I don’t believe it. Prove it to me.” I reply, “I can’t prove it to you. But turn around and look at it; it will prove itself to you.” They reply, “No–prove it to me.” Is it fair?”

Then Jones talks about why Jesus spoke with such authority. I love this and wish I’d learned it growing up”

        In other words, when He made all things, He made them to work in a certain way, and that way would be according to Christ. If the Way were written only in the Scriptures, then we might battle over the authority of the Scriptures, their authorship, their authenticity, their worth. But suppose the Way is written in the nature of reality as well as the Scriptures. Then the Way is inescapable for everybody.

        If Jesus is only a moralist imposing a moral code on humanity, then of course we can question that code and His authority. But suppose Jesus it the revealer of reality’s nature. That makes Him different. he not only reveals the nature of God–He reveals the nature of life.

        We have seen that the Way and not-the-way are written in the Bible. But for many people the authority of the Bible has decayed. It doesn’t grip or guide them. As one critic put it, the Christian faith as contained in the Bible is a “set of scruples imposed on the framework of humanity to keep it from functioning naturally and normally.” They therefore turn to the revelation of life through science and experience their guide. I can disregard the injunctions of the Bible if they are imposed from the outside, but I cannot ignore them if they reveal life itself, if the lift up laws written in the nature of things. For if I run away from them as written in the Bible, I still meet them confronting me from everywhere in daily life.

I daresay that most Christians don’t see it this way. They think Scripture is asking us to live in a way that is counter to humanity. When Sara and I recently reread Proverbs we were struck by how much living with integrity, honesty, kindness, and wisdom was not just something God said we should do, but that those who live that way are far more successful in the things that matter in life. Even as it acknowledges that living dishonestly may make you more money as you take advantage of others, such wealth is short-lived and you’re better off with honesty and a little than deceit with a lot. The real treasures are wisdom, honesty, and kindness not material gain or influence built on deception.

The Creator spoke to us about how to live in the Creation, even one defiled by sin. He’s not imposing some moral order from the outside, but inviting us to live in the Creation the way he designed us to, before sin made the unnatural seem natural. Jesus and the Scriptures speak about life itself and that we would want to follow his way not because it would make God mad if we don’t, but because his way puts us in sync with the Godly part of the Creation and offers us the wisdom to cooperate with the way things really are not the way they appear.

That puts a different view on holiness and righteousness that is so desperately needed today.