Had breakfast with a buddy last weekend. During the course of the morning’s conversation we talked about our weight and our attempts to have less of it. Yeah . . . kind of ironic . . . ’cause the breakfast we enjoyed wasn’t exactly part of the solution. But as we talked about solutions (rather than practicing any that morning) we agreed that “crash diets” weren’t really of interest to us . . . instead we both knew it had to be a change in the way we approached eating overall (and a way that would have to accommodate a certain number breakfasts of the type we were about to enjoy). Not some short term fix . . . but a long term adjustment. Not a quick diet, but a quiet determination to follow a regimen of more healthy eating. Less about immediate weight loss and more about a way of life.
I wonder sometimes if there aren’t those who approach their faith something like a crash diet. Guilt builds, for whatever reason, and it’s back to church . . . or re-start the reading plan . . . or add a little something to next week’s offering. They try and power themselves back to a “right standing” only to return to their normal course of action and eventually “fall off the wagon” again. Short term fix? Maybe, after some manner of thinking. Long term gain? Not so much.
What’s got me thinking along these lines is a little two word phrase that I encountered this morning for the fourth and fifth time as I’ve been reading through Acts. That phrase? “The Way.”
In Acts 9, it says that Saul went to Damascus to persecute those “belonging to the Way.” In Acts 19, the converted Saul, now Paul, is challenged as he preaches to Jews at a synagogue and it says there arose those who were “speaking evil of the Way to the congregation.” Later, in Ephesus, home of the pagan goddess Artemis, Luke records that “there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way” as it was starting to impact the business of the idol makers. And in my Acts 24 reading this morning, Paul is in Roman chains, standing before governor Felix, who had “rather accurate knowledge of the Way”, listening to his Jewish accusers. And Paul responds to their false charges, exposing their real problem with him.
Neither can they prove to you what they now bring up against me. But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets, having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. (Acts 24:13-15 ESV)
They called The Way a sect . . . Paul called it worship. Paul said it was propelled by belief in the Scriptures and fueled by a future hope. It was less about spouting dogma than about pursuing daily the things of God. Less about acknowledging a distant Jehovah and more about communing with a risen Jesus. Less about periodic good works to stay in good standing, all about a persistent and consistent walk because we have already been seated together with Him in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:6) through His perfect Person and His finished work.
Crash diets don’t sustain weight loss. Neither do “crash good works” sustain the faith. Instead, it’s pursuing The Way . . . it’s The Way enveloping us. Our whole lives an act of worship. Our thoughts filtered by The Way . . . our priorities influenced by The Way . . . our aspirations and goals founded on The Way . . . our greatest desire to be found by Him in The Way.
By His grace . . . for His glory . . .