The Way not just the Truth

For those of you who know me, you will know I am not a proponent for thoughtless Christianity, but for those of us who are inclined to the analytical, we need reminders that we think well in order to enact well and I’ve found Francis of Assisi to be a helpful voice to encourage me;

Those who have analyzed the writings of Francis have noted that he uses the word doing rather than understanding at a ratio of 175 times to 5. Heart is used 42 times to 1 use of mind. Love is used 23 times as opposed to 12 uses of truth. Mercy is used 26 times while intellect is used only 1 time.
This is a very new perspective that is clearly different from (and an antidote to) the verbally argumentative Christianity of his time, and from the highly academic theology that would hold sway from then on. Francis took prayer on the road and into the activity of life itself, which is why the Franciscans popularized the portable, small psalter that we still call the breviary (brevis or short handbook). – Richard Rohr on Francis

The loudest voices in Christianity often seem to be ones advocating for the ditches on either side of the metaphorical road. Of course, we are tempted to be drawn to one ditch or another, but attempting to argue there is only one ditch is what has led to a fragmented in-fighting bride. Our Spiritual formation and discipleship would do well if we immersed ourselves in voices that call us not only to what we already believe and practise but also to the other side.

As is well known, the first Christians identified themselves as The way, with Christian being a later and derogatory label meaning “Little Christ’s”. I wonder if Christianity would look any differently if we have clung to the first label? The Way which is a clearly naming that christianity has to be practised not only intellectually considered. Maybe a name would not be enough, but those who go on the way without thinking will eventually lose their way, and those who think without practising the way will be the most tragically positioned of all in eternity.

In Jesus’ famous statement in John 14:6 it is worth us paying attention the order in which he says first;
1. I am the way.. – We only enter into Christian life through our steps and actions
2. I am the truth.. – We encounter truth not as information but through the participation in the way, unto the realisation that truth is God made flesh, the very person of Jesus not solely factual statements regarding Him.
3. I am the life – Jesus catches up our lives, which become his breath in us, life is for living as the saying goes, and that living extends far beyond our intellectual ascents.

Now maybe Jesus didn’t intend the progression structure I have overlaid on his words, but I think the realities described do mirror many of our experiences in how we move forward in Spiritual formation and Discipleship. We must practise, reflect and live in order to follow Jesus.


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