Category Archives: Spiritual Transformation

Jesus & the Paradox of the Narrow Way

The Hebrew way of thinking about life was that life is a walk. This is one of the primary ways the apostle Paul talks about how you live your life – how you walk. We are all on a path to something even if you aren’t trying to be on a path to something. The early Christians were called “The Way.” They were not called “a way” but “the way.” It is important how we live, how we walk – the path that we take in life. It all truly matters and has eternal significance.

In John 14, Jesus has one of this most famous conversations with his disciples. It is a conversation that has inspired such uninspiring songs as “mansion, robe and a crown.” More than that, Jesus has something to say to us about his very nature,

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.”

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.

How can we know the way? The way is not a path. The way is a person – Jesus.

I have been meditating on that idea over the last few days. What does it mean for Jesus not to be a way but to be the way. What meaning is there in Jesus actually being the path itself? To me, it means to be on Jesus’ path is to be with and in Jesus himself. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said that the way is narrow and that few will find it (Matt 7:13f). As I was considering what it means for Jesus to be the way and that the way he is demonstrating is a narrow way, in my mind’s eye, I zoomed in…closer and closer to the path. From the bird’s eye perspective the way appears to be narrow but the more I zoom in the wider and wider it gets. The closer I get to zooming in on Jesus, the wider the path appears. The more microscopic my focus, like some odd 80’s movie about shrinking people, everything else around seems to get larger and more expansive.

It dawned on me that the way of Jesus is a narrow way but the closer you are to Christ, the wider the way seems to us. The closer you get to Jesus the more freedom you have and, although the path has never changed it size, it no longer seems so narrow. It seems just right. Of course, any time we can be close to Jesus is going to be just right. The road no longer feels so narrow when you are walking it with him.

I think this is what Paul was talking about when he wrote this to Titus,

To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.” – Titus 1:15

To a person who has pure intentions the things that catch their focus will be things that are pure and the things that are not pure will fade into the distance…so to the pure all things (that which they notice and attend to) are pure. It is not that everything in the world becomes morally acceptable. It is that what we perceive filters out the evil and impure so that all that is left to our eyes are pure things. Children are this way and we should be as well.

Here is what I am getting at. I am convinced the way of Jesus is a narrow way. But the closer I get to Jesus the less narrow it feels. It is not the result of God widening the path but it is a result of my focus and the graceful work of the Spirit showing me just how much freedom the narrow way allows. When I perceive that, this once narrow path seems expansive and as wide as the universe itself, walking with Jesus day in and day out.

I don’t know if this makes sense to you or not but it makes an awful lot of sense to me. I hope I have explained it well enough!

The Power of the Peace of Christ Ruling Your Heart

In Churches of Christ Colossians 3 is best known for 3:16 where Paul writes, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.“ Paul has just spent three chaptersContinue Reading

Erosion

We have a small (usually dry) creek that runs behind our house. When we first moved in, we noticed that we also had a significant erosion problem above the creek going up the hill from the creek to our house. This had been partially fixed by the builder with a retaining wall but below theContinue Reading

Having the Mind of Christ

In three places Paul talks directly about how God is transforming our minds, more specifically to be like the mind of Jesus. Rom 12:2 – “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s willContinue Reading

“Open Your Eyes” – Seeing Things for the First Time

We see what we choose to see and are blind to what we choose to be blind to. Jesus constantly told people who had eyes that were physically capable of seeing that they weren’t seeing everything they needed to see…that there was more to life and God’s perspective on things than they were understanding. ThisContinue Reading

Shifting the Locus From Church Building to Home

We often think of Judaism’s worship as being centered around either the temple or the synagogue. What is missing is that the vast majority of the spiritual life in Judaism was in the home. The Shema (Deut 6:4-9) was recited daily. The 18 benedictions were recited or prayed daily (could well be “the prayers” mentionedContinue Reading

Favorite Books List: Spirituality and Spiritual Formation

Every now and then I see people list their favorite books of the last year or of all time. I want to take a crack at it as you might find some books in here you want to read and I would love to hear back from you on what would make your list. InContinue Reading

Gordon Fee’s Admonition to Preachers – Don’t Become “Professional”

Another post from Listening to the Spirit in the Text by Gordon Fee. Fee’s admonition is on the danger of ministers getting out of touch with God and their task becoming routine and “professional” rather than seeing ministry as a spiritual and vibrant activity, “I regularly tell students: Have the touch of God on yourContinue Reading

The Real Agenda of Advertising & God’s Counter-Narrative

The goal of advertising is to convince you that you need something that is non-essential to your survival. 100% of commercials are about non-necessities. Why? Who has to advertise something everyone actually has to buy to survive? Right? So by the very nature of commercials, they are trying to sell you something you can live without,Continue Reading

Spiritual Transformation: More Information is Not the Answer

The Jews had the Law for 1300 years before Christ came. There were all kinds of details in the Law about how to live, what to do in various situations, and how to maintain holiness and deal with sin. As we know today, the Law was not sufficient. What did God do in its place?Continue Reading

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