A Way of Life is the second part of our discipleship process at WRCC, following The Journey. While The Journey opens your eyes to a fresher, more accurate way of looking at yourself and God, A Way of Life is a “deepening” experience. The course helps embed the character and heart of the Christian walk into our heart and mind. I am in the process of walking through the Way of Life material with a group of outstanding men, and it has challenged me in new ways.
One of these challenges is confronting the ways Jesus is not like me. For example, as I read about Jesus’ life, I am amazed at how comfortable he was in his identity. Even in situations when he was questioned, he responded with confidence rather than insecurity. In fact, John the Baptist (his cousin) – the one who proclaimed, “Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) questioned Jesus’ entire identity (Matthew 11:2-3). But to this and to others, Jesus is undeterred and presses forward with the message and mission he has received from his Father.
The Way of Life material has a fascinating quote from sociologist James Davison Hunter’s book To Change The World that captures Jesus’ counterculture ways well:
Everything about his life, his teaching, and his death was a demonstration of a different kind of power – not just in relation to the spiritual realm and not just in relation to the ruling political authorities, but in the ordinary social dynamics of everyday life. It operated in complete obedience to God the Father, it repudiated the symbolic trappings of elitism, it manifested compassion concretely out of a calling and vocation, and it served the good of all and not just the good of the community of faith. In short, in contrast to the kingdoms of this world, his kingdom manifest the power to bless, unburden, serve, heal, mend, restore and liberate. What follows is clear: as ones who accept his invitation into his kingdom, Christians must follow him.
Hunter summarizes Jesus’ use of social power with four characteristics:
- Jesus power is derivative – rooted in intimacy and submission to the Father.
- Jesus power is humble – rejecting the privileges of status and reputation.
- Jesus power is compassionate – serving the good of all, not just the good of faith communities.
- Jesus power is non-coercive – blessing rather than cursing the other.
At times, in life and ministry, I keep an improper perspective on how I meet the needs of those around me. I often see myself as blessing their life, as though my service is simply a gift that I can give or take away depending on my mood. At times, I will sigh and reluctantly serve someone else, not because I necessarily want to but because I don’t want to feel guilty if I don’t. It often feels like I am going out of my way to serve the needs of others. On my worst days I operate like my service is so incredible, and their need so unworthy, that they should see what an incredible gift I am to them. What a terrible way to live! I still have much to learn.
There is a way to the Kingdom that is completely different then my selfish perspective. I need to be more willing to simply come alongside someone with attentive care that acknowledges their infinite worth and demonstrates a love for them. Making space for others means that I am putting the needs of others first and looking for ways that I can specifically meet their needs. Going out of my way is actually the type of care that is foundational to the Kingdom.
For all who exalt themselves will be humbled,
but all who humble themselves will be exalted.