A highway shall be there, and it shall be called the Holy Way; the unclean shall not travel on it, but it shall be for God’s people; no Traveller , not even fools, shall go astray. 
Isaiah 35:8.

The Christian movement was referred to as ‘The Way‘.  Ancient Christians were known as followers of ‘The Way’.  They did not follow a Church or a denomination.  They followed the teachings of Jesus.

This is a description written  to describe these new followers of Christ from The Epistle to Diognetes, c. AD 130..

They dwell in their own countries, but simply as sojourners. As citizens, they share in all things with others and yet endure all things as if foreigners. Every foreign land is to them as their native country, and every land of their birth as a land of strangers. They marry, as do all others; they beget children; but they do not destroy their offspring.

They have a common table, but not a common bed. They are in the flesh, but they do not live after the flesh. They pass their days on earth, but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the prescribed laws, and at the same time surpass the laws by their lives. They love all men and are persecuted by all. They are unknown and condemned; they are put to death and restored to life.

They are poor yet make many rich; they are in lack of all things and yet abound in all; they are dishonored and yet in their very dishonor are glorified. They are evil spoken of and yet are justified; they are reviled and bless; they are insulted and repay the insult with honor; they do good yet are punished as evildoers. When punished, they rejoice as if quickened into life; they are assailed by the Jews as foreigners and are persecuted by the Greeks; yet those who hate them are unable to assign any reason for their hatred. To sum it all up in one word — what the soul is to the body, that are Christians in the world.

This post was written by Ray Simpson for Way Marks Of Life.

Traveller  1    How can I follow this way when I’ve had two still births, my one baby that survived has a chronic condition, and I feel drained day and night?

Guide             This way has lodging places that exactly meet the needs of each person. Jesus said ‘In my Father’s House are many lodging places (John 14:2). The Greek word suggests that Jesus had in mind the lodging houses that were familiar to people who walked along the trade routes.  By being fully present to your child just where you are, you show you are in fact on the right way. Your baby is also on a journey. Take each day at a time. Each day take a step of love.

Traveller  4    I am a mother of five children.  My life is taken up with household duties. I love my family and Jesus, and I welcome my neighbours to drop in, but everything revolves around relationships and the changing needs of people. I could not keep to a regular rule or routine. Surely that’s for people with a high level of energy and organising ability?

Guide             God has designed his Way for people of all types and circumstances. In today’s Scripture Isaiah points out that everyone can travel it, even fools; only the unclean will be unable to make it. Everyone who has begun to love their children and their neighbour has begun to walk this way. However, Jesus said ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself’ (Matthew 22:39). In order to love yourself and others you need to renew the springs of care. Otherwise you burn out and cease to be a life-giving parent and neighbour. If you refuse to rest and to snatch moments for prayer and reflection you are disobeying Jesus who said ‘If you love me, keep my commandments’ (John 14:15). If you disregard the way your body is made you are disregarding Jesus. If you disregard the way the days and weeks are made you are disregarding Jesus. Jesus has built rhythm into the fabric of your being and of the earth.  So being mindful of the sun rising and setting, being aware of how the food on the plates came to get there, is not an impossible extra burden, it is intrinsic to you being a good human being, a good mother and a good neighbour.

It is true that you will not travel this Way in the same manner that a commando officer or an elite athlete would, but God does not want everyone to be like that. So relax. Breathe in God, take a step, and share the journey with a soul friend.

Traveller  5    Isaiah says the unclean can’t walk this way. I have unclean thoughts, my room is in a mess, I’ve broken up with my partner and I’ve got into debt, so even though I believe in God, I can’t walk this way until I’ve sorted everything out, can I?

Guide             Jesus enlisted a prostitute (John 8:11), he knew that everyone has unclean thoughts (Matthew 5:18), and he explained what people with messed up relationships and debt could do about these (Matthew 5:23, 24; 18:23-35).  The first New Testament followers of the Way did not include many big wigs and egg heads, for God chose people who looked foolish in their eyes to be followers of the Way (1 Corinthians 1:27).

———————

Into reflection

Jesus, you are ahead of me, I come to you just as I am.

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