‘Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”’ Isaiah 30:21 . . .
‘Where is your life headed?’ . . . We might well say, we do not know. But perhaps a more helpful question is – ‘towards what is your life directed?’
Knowing our Direction – to what we are directed is to know where we are headed, and it makes our life far simpler, even if often it makes it far more difficult
Most folk know of the difficult way our family is following with our daughter. Some might wonder why? They might be tempted to say, it is her ‘Christian principles’ which told her the way. But no, the principles, the rules if you like are the manifestation of something far deeper, that is The Way. For our daughter, to see a beating heart is to know The Way . . .
Early Christians were often called ‘followers of The Way’, in Scripture far more often than ‘Christians’ which is used only once. The prophet says ‘Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”’ It is deep within the fabric of existence and lies, usually buried in the depth of the human heart, for it underlies all of reality.
As CS Lewis explains Christian faith to those who might not know it, he speaks of this deep underlying Right Ordering of things using the ancient Chinese concept of The Tao.
We as the people of St John the Evangelist, know it as The Word – or as the Greeks put it – The Logos. The deep underlying Right Order of the universe. In the beginning – when God created the heaven and Earth, there it was – In the beginning was the Logos, the Tao, The Way.
As the children of Israel gather at Mt Sinai, God reveals himself, the unseen God, by revealing The Way. The ten Commandments or as they are perhaps more helpfully known in the Jewish tradition, the Ten Words, the Tao, The Logos. The Logos who is I AM reveals himself as The Way
I am, the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me.
You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.
You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.
These first three commandments are summed up in the Great Command we hear every Sunday – Hear, O Israel, O people of God, The Lord your God, the LORD is One and you shall love the lord your God with all your heart and mind and soul and strength . . . Why does The Way begin in this Way?
We are commanded to Love the God whom we do not see so, not idols, or the gods of the nations – followers of The Way are never nationalists. Why Love the unseen God?
So that we learn the Direction of our The Way, The direction of our Life – or, for it is the same thing, the Direction of our Love. To Know this Logos, this tao, this Way is to Know the nature of Love and Life that is always and everywhere Towards.
Love is ecstatic – it is ‘Away from’. We love away from ourselves. Love flows towards – Love is not about acquiring or drawing to ourself. Love does not seek to possess – this is a tragic distortion of love. Loving that which we see all too often perverts love by reversing its direction – from away from like the flow of a River, from releasing and letting go, forgiving we might say, to eeking to possess and hold on to – to draw to ourself.
‘So and so ‘completes me’’ Oh, I saw that piece of furtniture and I just Had to have it . . . this is the perversion of Love.
We learn Love, The Way by loving that which we cannot see, so that we learn not to set our hearts on things that do not last, and so move away from life which is eternal. We learn not the false misdirected love which seeks to acquire – and we learn to love that which surrounds us as ourself.
Sin in Greek is hamartia – it means to miss the mark. Sin is misdirected love. It is against The Tao, against the Logos. Sin is to draw towards for our sake.
We are made to Love, but we are surrounded by many things which we seek to possess for our own sake. Rather than to direct our Love to the One thing necessary – the Love towards God which is the Way, the Way which orders and directs all Love.
Sin is misdirected love, for the moth and rust consume and thieves break I and steal. It is the Love that always ends in our loss, for it is the love of things that pass away, which is misdirected love.
A couple of weeks ago I mentioned the rich man, who had many possessions. He had loved everything he had seen – he had set his heart on them. This is idolatry. In the early church it was called the spirit of fornication, to Love as God that which was not God. It was disordered love. Yes it had a sexual expression, but the deeper disorder was the problem, the sexual aspect was merely the most clear expression of the disordered love, as it strikes most deeply into our humanity. It reveals that to love is to become joined to, we become one with . . . We are created to be united to God, the young man had become united to his possessions
The Goal of the Christian Life is simple – it is to become One with God and so to become Love – The Direction of The Way is Up – that is why Jesus says – ‘take no thought for the morrow . . . rather seek his kingdom and his righteousness’
This is what we call Resurrection. It is where our lives are to head. Not forward in time, but upwards towards God so that within the realm of time and Space which God has called into being the Tao, the Logos, The Way is manifested. To become expressions of the Eternal in the world of things passing away
So St Paul in his letter to the Philippians
I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God based on faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
In the beginning was The Logos – our Christian announcement is that the Logos, the Way has become flesh in Christ Jesus and Him Crucified. The Resurrection is the revelation of that – through dying to self, considering not the things that are passing away, but rather fixing our hearts and minds on the Eternal – God manifested in Christ (this is faith – that which we set our hearts on) – The Human is Revealed in the heart of Creation. This is the Centre of all things, the meaning of all things – it is the way through death to Life. It was for this that Christ came, to make the dead Live!! To become Love is Resurrection, it is as St John reminds us, the grounds of our hope ‘for as he is, so are we in the world’
This is to be restored to our true humanity, it is to find our life in accord with the deep pattern of the entire Creation. As I wrote in the parish magazine this month, Resurrection is written into the Creation – a true river always finds its course – And we, if we have come to know Christ have come to know The Way.
Our daughter sees a beating heart – her heart pours out – the River finds its painful course, towards the Sea – She Knows the Way . . . Those who walk in The Way, Know the Way