Which Way?

Which Way?Jesus saith unto him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me”. – John 14:6    

Which way do we go?  Or, where are we going?  This are typical, reoccurring, and important questions with different levels or scales.  Sometimes these questions are used fairly trivially, i.e. which way to the grocery store, or maybe the group is trying to make a decision on what to do on a Saturday night, etc.   In John 14:6, Jesus is at the highest level of this questioning.   He is talking about THE way, i.e. the Way to God and eternity with God.  And He is talking, like He often does, about a subject that can be applied at many scales, and can meet us where we are.

At the simplistic level, He is saying that He is the only way to have relationship with God the Father.  This is a great statement of Truth.  He says, “If you want to get to God, you have to come through Me”.   There is not another way by which men can be saved from their sin.

At another level, we realize that He not only is the portal to the Father in regards to salvation, but that our way to the Father is to follow Jesus in the Way that He lived and taught.  Simply put, the way that He modeled, shows us ‘our way’ to heaven.   Society asks, “What would Jesus do?”    When we look at what Jesus DID, we see ‘our way’.   What did He do?  In Philippians 2, it says, ‘He 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…He humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

What is He asking us to do?  Take up our cross and follow Him.  Surrender our life to God.  Allow the Holy Spirit to mold our spirit into a new person, one that does what the Father asks and assigns us to do.  Our Way to heaven and the Father is to follow the Way that Jesus modeled.

At the 101 level, He is the way to heaven (the only portal).

At the 202 level, He modeled our way for us (demonstrated).

At a deeper level, He not only modeled it for us, but ‘our way’ is in Him.

He is our portal to God, He showed us how to live for God (surrendered) and He IS the Way.  We must share in His death if we want to share in His resurrection.  What does that look like?

In today’s American Church, men are often told that the Way is to say a sinner’s prayer, come to church faithfully, sit in a pew and listen respectfully, serve on a committee or maybe a teaching role, and help perpetuate the collective American Church of some denomination in a non-confrontational way.  Is this what Jesus did?  If Jesus were here now, what do you think He would do?   I think He would do what He did.  I think He would be who He is.  What did He do? He was a disciple of God, the Father (He said what He heard the Father say; He did what He saw the Father do).  He discipled others.  And He communicated spiritual Truths in a way and at a level that was amazing —- He was a Masterful Communicator.  What is our Way? It is Jesus and what He did.  Be a disciple.  Disciple others.  Through the power of the Holy Spirit, communicate the truths of God in a purposeful and masterful way.   This might not be passive, and it might not be non-confrontational.   But it is the Way, i.e. it is Jesus!

Derek Dougherty

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Lessons from a Master Communicator

JesusJesus was a masterful communicator; the Master Teacher.  To say He spoke at another level would be an understatement.  But anything less would have been beneath His high purpose.  He came to earth to 1) reveal God and His grace to men, 2) be a sacrifice to cover men’s sins, 3) describe God and His Kingdom, its functioning and our part in it, and 4) offer God’s gift of salvation and Life to men.  Not a simple assignment and conventional simple minded communication would hardly have served the purpose.

As Christ’s men, our known assignments are often not simple either, and we would do well to learn from Jesus’s communication style.  Paying attention to what He spoke about, the level at which He addressed different people, the tone for the different groups, and the contrast with the existing establishment, could teach us a lot about how we should go about our Kingdom assignments.

Consider Jesus’s discussion with Nicodemus in John 3.  What was the topic?  “Ye must be born again.”  What was the level of depth?  Very deep, i.e. beyond the present understanding of the ruling Pharisee faction.  What was Jesus’s tone?  Graceful? No.  Direct? Yes.  Condemning? Yes.  Confrontational?  With Nicodemus?   No.  In regards to ‘conventional’ truth? Absolutely.  In regards to the religious establishment of the time?  Definitely.  Did Jesus cater to the establishment and work to try to convince the Pharisees or make them understand?  Absolutely not.  Did Jesus talk about politics, or taxation, or social injustice?  Or, in contrast, did he talk about Kingdom business?

Consider Jesus’s discussion with the woman at the well in John 4.  What was the topic?  Living water.  What was the level of depth of knowledge?  Deep, both from Jesus and a woman that knew her history.  What was Jesus’s tone?  Gracious? Yes, in contrast to the Pharisee discussion above.  Direct? Absolutely, to the point of telling her she had had 5 husbands.  Condemning? No.  Confrontational?  With the woman? No.  In regards to the established relationship boundaries between Jews and Samaritans? Yes.  In regards to conventional knowledge? Absolutely.  Did Jesus cater to the woman and work to explain the next level to her? Yes, in fact He spent several days there teaching.  Did Jesus talk about current policies and historical relationships? Or, did He talk about Kingdom business?

Consider Jesus’s discussion with Satan when tested in the desert in Mark 4.  What was the topic? Spiritual sustenance, self-preservation, and great power.  What was the level of depth?  Super deep, i.e. the jousting of two advanced spiritual representatives from the two competing realms of good and evil. What was Jesus’s tone? Graceful? Not quite.  Direct? Totally.  Condemning?  Not in word, only in the effect of His choices.  Confrontational?  At the highest level — eternal consequences.  Did Jesus cater to the established ruler of this earth?  No.  Did He talk about politics or taxes or the weather? Or did He continue to focus on His Kingdom assignment.

There are many other examples of Jesus talking to individuals in the Gospels and I encourage you to review them with this same line of thought, but just from these three examples, what do we ‘see’?   The focus of the topics was not on simple things of this world, but rather a strong focus on the things of His Father’s Kingdom and His personal assignment.   The level of depth?  Beyond conventional wisdom!  What about His tone?  It differed depending on who He was talking to.  For the humble woman with genuine interest, it was gracious and engaging.  For the religious establishment (man’s version) and Satan, it was direct and unapologetic, even directly condemning in regards to the truth.  What about His focus?  He had a Kingdom and assignment focus that was strong and consistent.   What did He NOT talk about?  The petty things of this world that do not last.

What is the application?  We walk in the same world with similar tasking (other than the sacrifice for sins, which only Jesus could accomplish, and it is done).   Just like conventional wisdom and communication were not fitting for Jesus’s task, they are not fitting for our calling.  Thankfully we have access to the written Word and the Holy Spirit.  Consider your communication methods.  How do they compare?  Are you gracious to the humble?  Are you direct and strong for truth in all cases?  Are you about your Father’s business, or do you get lost in the things of the world?

Derek Dougherty

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Fear in the Church, or Beauty in the Ashes?

Just recently, in a small south TX town a deranged local towns-person entered a church during the 11 o’clock hour service and killed 27 people, walking pew to pew, gunning down innocent Texans, Christians, family members and friends.  The death of these brothers and sisters turned the spotlight on this little TX town, the people of the town, and their God.  Questions regarding why would God allow this, what do you say to explain it, and many similar and familiar question come rushing to the surface.

In Sutherland, TX, the strength of God’s people has shown bright.  Their light and their testimony has been strong.  Their shared truths of the comfort of God and the love of His people has been genuine and inspiring.  The attack of the enemy is a reminder of the battle.  Satan and his demons are active and he is capable of crippling and misleading the minds of men who open the door to him.  This is his earth where he roams, seeking to kill and destroy.   The sureness of God’s plan also shows clear to His people in this event.  God takes bad and works it to our good and His good.  Out of death comes life and out of this incident will come great Life.   Many Christians and non-Christians alike will have to confront the uncommon peace shown and the stories of comfort shared by the survivors of the victims.  The peace is not natural. It is supernatural.  Many non-Christians around the globe will have to confront the reality of life and death, and make a decision of how they will spend eternity.  Christians throughout this country will have to confront the shortness of this life and consider how they are spending their life on earth now.  Are we using the time we have wisely, working for a heavenly and eternal kingdom, or rather storing up worthless toys and treasures on this earth that will not last?

Around the country, every Christian church subsequently has to deal with the questions of congregational safety in their own church.   And the individual members have to consider their own safety, and subsequently their faith in the protection of God.  Many churches will respond with locked doors and armed guards and even a skeptical review of visitors.  Others will trust in the sovereignty of a great God and leave their doors open.  Those prior will base all on the premise that God gave us common sense to make decisions.  The latter will say and believe that God orders our steps and goes before us.  Others will fall somewhere in between.  But a couple of things are more sure and clear.  For one, there is no place for fear of man in our lives.  The fear and respect of God is the beginning of wisdom, while the fear of man, is the undermining of your Christian faith. Luke 12:4 puts the focus where it should be, Jesus said “And I say unto you my friends, be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do”.

Secondly, there is no place for holding too tightly to our own life.  For any real follower of Christ, his or her life has already been relinquished with the reins given to the Lord.  In Matthew 10:29, Jesus puts it directly, “If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.”

What will your response to the killings at Sutherland Baptist Church be?  Will you be a captive of Satan-inspired fear?  Or will your faith in a great God and your surrender to Jesus as Lord increase?  Will fear supplant faith in your church?  Fear not!  Instead, look up and observe while God brings beauty from ashes.

Derek Dougherty

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