The Way

Published 5:19 pm Monday, December 23, 2019

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By Scott Baker

Those early followers of Jesus, way back in the first part of the Acts of the Apostles were called followers of The Way. This is the name they were known by until we get to the 11th chapter of Acts and the city of Antioch where they were first called Christians.

Perhaps now in the 21st century, we would be well served to reclaim that first name, opting for it over Christian. Here in this day and age where we are surrounded by relativism and secular pluralism, claiming this name as the defining aspect of our nature is to affirm that we walk a different path than the world around us.

The first name for Christ’s followers seems better suited in my mind. After all, Jesus himself said that he is, “the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. (John 14:6-7)”

Some think this sounds exclusionary, maybe even a little off-putting. As if, in affirming Jesus as the way, we are somehow dismissing, or disrespecting the other religions in the world. A paltry comparison would be: Just because I love chocolate ice cream doesn’t mean that vanilla, strawberry or rocky road are somehow inferior or worse. But for me, chocolate is certainly number one. Yet, to affirm Jesus as the way is to put our faith in the most foundational dogma of the Christian faith. To be a follower of the way, a disciple of Jesus Christ, is to claim as the cornerstone of our lives that through Christ, and by Christ, we enter into God.

As we enter into this holy season of Christmas, what we celebrate is not only the birth of our Savior, but also, the advent of our portal into the Holy Trinity. For it is through Christ that we enter into God’s very nature. Or as C.S. Lewis once wrote, “Jesus Christ became human, in order that humans might become divine.”

What makes the incarnation so integral and unique to Christianity is that no other religion in the world holds as a core belief a doctrine of incarnation. For most of them God is removed, and certainly not transcendent and immanent. However, for followers of The Way, as far-fetched or outlandish as it may appear, Christ is the fullest and most complete revelation of the divine.

As Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians, “To the Greek it is foolishness, to the Jew, scandalous,” but for us who believe, it is a whole new way of being. Christmastide is the time of the year that we celebrate our passage into the divine by celebrating him who is the way, the truth and the life.

Come, let us adore him.

THE REV. SCOTT BAKER is the rector of Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Franklin. Contact him at 562-4542.