The Jesus Way
We are spiritual beings longing to be spiritually fulfilled.
But, what we do to be spiritually fulfilled matters.
Being spiritually fulfilled creates in us a place of pure joy and peace, eternal satisfaction to the soul, but in order for us to be in that place, we need to know how we get to that place. This is where practicing spirituality comes in.
The thing is, humanity as a whole is lost on the journey and doesn't know where to go to find pure joy and peace.
We try so hard to find it in social status, romantic relationships, our careers, our emotions (or lack thereof), a state of consciousness within the mind, and so much more.
But if I can be honest, these have yet to lead us in fulfillment and satisfaction in our souls.
Spirituality is something we all practice because we are spiritual beings.
So we have to reframe our practice of spirituality. One that is not based on a betterment to self through self-achievement or self pleasures and seeking a transcendent state nor through cultural acceptance. But rather one that is fully dependent on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Again, we are spiritual beings looking to be spiritually fulfilled. Which is ok. It’s in our nature but the tension is that we want the desires of our flesh, yet know that will lead us to feel empty and dissatisfied.
How do you practice spirituality that aligns with the life, death, and resurrection of Christ?
Let me put it this way,
How do you practice your spirituality?
We must adopt a Christian spirituality
Alister Mcgrath on the topic of Christian spirituality,
For Christianity, spirituality concerns the living out of the encounter with Jesus Christ. The term “Christian spirituality” refers to the way in which the Christian life is understood and the explicitly devotional practices which have been developed to foster and sustain that relationship with Christ. Christian spirituality may be thus understood as the way in which Christian individuals or groups aim to deepen their experience with God, or to practice the presence of God to use a phrase especially associated with Brother Lawrence.
Christian spirituality concerns oneself on living out of the encounter with Jesus Christ. It is through Jesus Christ that lays the foundation of an authentic and genuine Christian life.
It is through, to coin from Eugene Peterson, The Jesus Way that we develop a Christian spirituality. This is my approach to laying a basic foundation for an authentic and genuine Christian spirituality.
This is not a “3-5 ways to practice Christian spirituality” but rather an honest and vulnerable approach to a foundation to a Christian spirituality that is genuine and authentic.
We must understand that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Without knowing this, we will find ourselves developing a Christian life based on our comfort and on our selfish desires.
The foundation for the Jesus Way (Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life)
But we see in John 14:5-7,
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
We tend to focus so much on Jesus being the truth and the life but we don’t understand that Jesus first stated that he is the way.
Eugene Peterson states it better this way,
The Jesus way wedded to the Jesus truth brings about the Jesus life. We can’t proclaim the Jesus truth but then do it any old way we like. Nor can we follow the Jesus way without speaking the Jesus truth.
But Jesus as the truth gets far more attention than Jesus as the way…. In the text that Jesus sets before us so clearly and definitively, way comes first. We cannot skip the way of Jesus in our hurry to get the truth of Jesus as he is worshiped and proclaimed. The way of Jesus is the way that we practice and come to understand the truth of Jesus, living Jesus in our homes and workplaces, with our friends and family.
Jesus saying he is the way first, means that not only is his purpose to give advice and direction but that he himself will be on the path with us.
Not long ago, a woman came into the worship center looking for her bible study group while I was working. I could have told her, “You are going to go out through those doors, then go left all the way down till you see the gate to your left. Then go up the stairs, then hit another left, then on the second door to the right make a left. Keep going about 50 feet, then go to the door to your left then you’ll find it. Good luck!” No, instead I told her “I will take you to where you are going”.
That’s the Jesus way. He is not simply stating that he is a road map to study but rather the guide who comes with us, the one who will take us there. He takes us by the hand and leads us, he strengthens us and guides us personally every day.
William Barclay puts it this way,
He does not tell about the way; he is the way.
This is vital because we often, as Christians, jump to Jesus being the truth but avoid going his way. But understanding that he is the way must mean that he not only teaches the truth but is the truth. Jesus teaches moral truth which means that he must have the character that embodies it. He is our true and only example.
Again Willaim Barclay states in his commentary,
The tremendous thing about Jesus is not simply that the statement of moral perfection finds its peak in him; it is that the fact of moral perfection finds its realization in him.
Jesus is life. Through Jesus, we do not obtain a wealth of knowledge for its own sake, but a search for what will make life worth living. Life outside of Jesus, as most of us have lived, is not life itself but as though we are living dead. Life with Jesus is life indeed.
Now, we see Jesus make the bold claim. He states that no one comes to the Father except through Him.
He alone is the way to God. In Jesus, we know what God is like; and in Jesus alone, can we be led into God’s presence where fear and shame have no ground to take?
“We must know before we can love. In order to know God, we must often think of Him; and when we come to love Him, we shall then also think of Him often, for our heart will be with our treasure.” Brother Lawrence
To be in God's presence is to truly worship him in spirit and truth
In John 14, we see that the only way to the Father is the Jesus way, yet Jesus reveals himself in spirit and truth.
But for most Christians, we tend to grab tight to one and despise the other.
We crave controversy within the cultural realm of Christianity and it stems from the selfishness of our desire to choose truth over spirit or spirit over truth.
It’s as if truth and spirit are in a civil war trying to conquer each other.
We are missing the mark! We are so focused on truth or spirit that we create our own way to Jesus, making Jesus who we want him to be for the comfort of our souls.
The woman at the well and the disciples learn spirit and truth
Jesus puts it clearly when he talks to the woman at the well in John 4:13-14,
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman asks for that well and Jesus calls her out on what I would assume is her spiritual starvation. She had been with 5 men and the current one she is living with but not married.
The woman understood that Jesus was a prophet and Jesus went further and this is where we see spirit and truth working together as one as he continues in verses 23-24,
Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
God is spirit
Jesus here is declaring the true nature of God to the woman. God is constantly moving and is revealed through Jesus.
True spirituality or in my approach, the Jesus way, is to worship in truth, worshiping God through Jesus and in spirit, to worship God in the new realm which he has revealed to us.
Spirit and Truth
So we must understand that it is both spirit and truth that God is seeking, not one or the other but that through both of these, God will find the honest and true worshippers. Then, Jesus can give us living water that provides the satisfaction of our needs and desires.
This is the pursuit of the Jesus way.
That the way is not only an invitation to meet Jesus but to be transformed by Jesus and walk alongside Jesus on our journey as he indwells in us the Holy Spirit.
When Spirit and truth get into your core, you realize that it is not about spectacular events but rather a process in longevity of becoming more and more like Christ.
There is something interesting about verse 27 in John 4, the disciples saw Jesus talking to the woman and questioned it…
Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
Craig Keener makes a fascinating comment on the disciples,
That the disciples are amazed yet trust their teacher enough not to ask about this situation is a sign of their respect for him, an attitude considered appropriate for faithful disciples.
The disciples knew Jesus was the truth, they knew he was the Messiah and because of their respect and trust in him, they did not confront him because they saw truth in action.
Where the woman at the well needed truth in order to finally be free from her spiritual starvation, the disciples needed to see the spirit to fully understand that Jesus is not some declaration of authority but that he is who he says he is and he lives out who he says he is.
The Samaritan woman and the disciples had to meet Jesus in a place of humility in order for them to pursue the Jesus way. The woman was willing to be vulnerable and humiliated in front of her village to testify about the messiah. The disciples had to be humble in their concern for Jesus' methods, understanding that Jesus does not need to be questioned but respected for who he is so he can move through the lives of humanity.
So what does this mean for us?
In order for us to pursue the Jesus way, we have to begin with humility, because that is the Jesus way.
Humility is the beginning of pursuing The Jesus Way
In Gavin Ortlunds book called "Humility," he has this section all about how God defines humility. He clarifies that to answer this question, it begins with what God himself has done for us in the gospel, he states,
“God has not merely given us an abstract definition of humility– in the person of Jesus Christ, he has himself (astonishingly!) displayed humility”
Ortlund is saying that the definition of humility is not an articulate statement but rather an act that defines humility and the act of God is in the incarnation of Christ. That is the expression of humility.
“God, the Lord himself, the almighty, humbled himself– to the point of crucifixion– for us and for our sins…”
God stooped to the lowest place in order for us to receive the freedom of Christ.
In Philippians 2:5-8,
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!
In other translations it says that Jesus emptied himself, this does not mean that Christ ceased to be God, but rather the emptying can be seen as a lowering, a condescension, a descent. Jesus humbled himself.
If the Lord Almighty humbled himself then the only way for us to live according to God is to live humbly in every area of our lives.
I love what Francis Schaeffer states,
If we don’t want to waste our lives after we have become Christians, then we must understand the importance of having a humble, quiet heart and the power of the Holy Spirit.
When we approach the Jesus way through humility, truth and spirit can come together and we have the living water flowing through us every day of our lives because it is Jesus who was the first to take on humility.
It has to be out of humility for us to go the Jesus way or else you will choose a Jesus that you want to follow.
When we are coming to Jesus in humility, we are accepting the invitation to follow Jesus.
Humiliation is to be vulnerable and honest and allow Jesus to take that from you and transform your heart to be like his.
It is not a confrontation to cultural and societal issues but rather a confrontation to self.
Saying yes to Jesus is a life that is lived set apart from the ways in which we were living. A way only Jesus can take us through.
What’s my point?
The Jesus way is not to be extreme in the spirit and against the truth, and neither is it to be extreme in the truth and against the spirit, but rather to be in a place of humility, where spirit and truth become the Jesus way
To pursue an authentic and genuine Christian life, we have to be willing to posture ourselves in a place of humility. Only then can Jesus come into our lives in spirit and truth and allow us to go the Jesus way. To walk in the Jesus way in which we are so dependent on his life, his power, and his love. To respond to what Jesus has done for us requires us to understand that God is not just an objective knowledge to be obtained but to be lived out in everything we do. God is spirit, meaning to know him is also to experience his presence. But to adopt the Jesus way, a Christian spirituality, is to worship him in spirit and truth which provides everlasting hope and fulfillment in our lives. The Jesus way is to pursue an authentic and genuine relationship with Jesus.
Sometimes we have to learn from children's books, there is a scene with Winnie the Pooh, where he tells Piglet:
Any day spent with you is my favorite day.
So, today is my new favorite day.
When you choose the Jesus way, spending time with Jesus should be your favorite day.