Okay. So here’s one final idea about Jesus as “the way.” After we see Jesus as the way to understand God and after we surrender to Jesus as our salvation, we can then see Jesus as our way to action. Sometimes we get this backwards and start here instead of with the first two points. We plunge people into service at church when they are really struggling to connect with God on a personal level. That’s too early. It’s only when we find our bearings in relationship with Jesus that service to others flows naturally.
Now, lots of people think they have to do something “special” for God. Christians say stuff like that pretty often. Do I think God has specific things that he wants us to achieve as his sons and daughters? Sure. But there’s a flip-side to that equation. What I think God really wants from each of us is to live a life daily that reflects him. It doesn’t have to be super-impressive. It doesn’t have to be amazing or conspicuous. The Christian walk needs to be only two things: consistent and true. The responsibility of the Christian is to live life consistently in each of life’s scenarios. Through each season of life. Here’s why. You only get the chance to do something for God that will be categorized as amazing our life-changing in life once. Maybe twice. And even then that doesn’t mean anyone will recognize what you’re doing. But if we live life consistently in regards to our families, finances, occupation, and relational choices, then we will be in a position to risk something out of the ordinary because the other areas of our life will be stable.
You don’t have to be a Bible scholar. Simply start by memorizing a Bible verse or two. If you desperately want to raise funds for missions, try paying off your credit card first. Guys, if you want to be the world’s greatest dad, start by simply leaving the office earlier each night. And if that goes well, then start emptying the dishwasher without any fanfare. Want to do something amazing for God? Do the basics. Draw your sword, raise your battle cry, and charge up the hill to conquer the obvious and the insignificant. Small is the new big.
Jesus did things for others that were radical and counter-cultural. But he also did them simply and effectively. And that the true mark of Christian service: simple acts of grace and kindness that reflect the love of God for others. Simple acts of generosity that bring much attention to God and very little attention to us. One of the best ways to do this is in a small group. Or in your Sunday school class. Find out what God is leading your group to do. Here’s how you know: it’s something that comes up over and over in conversation. God may be teaching your group about mercy or faith or financial responsibility. And then think of simple ways that you could impact someone’s life for the better. Nothing over-the-top. Just something simple that reflects the heart of God.
One of my favorite stories from church history revolves around this idea. There’s this Roman historian named Tacitus who said something interesting about Christians around 100 a.d. Rather than calling them “Christians” he named them “Chrestians.” Now, that may look like a spelling error but when we find our way back into the original languages of the Bible it makes something very clear. Chrestotes is the Greek word for kindness, benevolence and goodness.
You see, the first century Christians were known for two things happening when they were around: something miraculous and something kind. When a Roman historian wrote about the early Christian movement, he was much more impressed with the generosity and simple acts of goodness than with their theological accuracy. Now, know that the theology was sound and that their beliefs were strong. But what interests me about that is how a deep relationship with Jesus can translate into a wide-ranging impact for good in a community.
When Jesus is the “way,” he not only meets our individual desire for relationship with God, he also empowers us to reach people in a profound and meaningful way. I confess that sometimes I find myself back at the first point: still trying to understand God by understanding Jesus. And other times, I end up at the foot of the cross overwhelmed by the revelation of God’s love for me in the sacrifice of Jesus. And then, the love of Christ compels me to do what I can for others as the Holy Spirit leads me. All are essential to the Christian walk. And they all flow from the strong son of the living God: Jesus Christ.