‘Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?” Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him’ John 14.5.6 NIV. The way is not every which-way. There is one way, one truth and one life.
We come to our Father through the Christ of God and in the provision of His gospel of the Kingdom.
If we believe that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life we will not need to be convinced that Jesus did not promote theological relativism. Jesus’ ‘way’ and His gospel is unilateral and exclusive in that there is but one way and one gospel of the Kingdom.
There are of course infinite ways of being you in Christ but one way only that is known as Christ our life.
We are at liberty to express Him in our own way. But we cannot invent private or ‘other gospels’ and consider ourselves as ministers of the Kingdom Jesus began.
John asserts that Jesus’ key legacy and our inheritance is ‘Christ come in our flesh.’ He implies that any substitution of the incarnated Christ by reversion to the law or any other religiosity is inspired by the anti-christ. Anti-christ does what the father of lies has always done – offers a false narrative that dims who Father is and who we are.
Commitment to truth is commitment to Jesus. C. S. Lewis observed that ‘In coming to understand anything, we are rejecting the facts as they are for us in favour of the facts as they are.’ Commitment to this quest is the ground of progress in all areas of life, but particularly in the theological realm. Here because of what we think of God and what He has done determines what we get to be and how we live our lives.
‘Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them’ Matt 13.12 NIV. We can miss opportunity because we venerate the past like the climate change Denier bleating about coal even as the potential for abundant wealth in renewables is already present.
Initially the good news of the gospel was called THE WAY. We now know it as the new and living way that ended Adam and began the human race in the person of Jesus Christ. It is new and living because it establishes human beings where they belong – in the infinite and eternal life of companionship with God. This WAY is LIVING because it is God in us, with us and AS US BY THE SPIRIT that draws us to Himself and makes us what we were always designed to be: Sons and daughters of God. We can be sons of God notionally in our own way. We are sons in spirit and in truth in God’s Way which is the person of Christ as our life.
LAW OF THE SPIRIT OF LIFE
‘Through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death’ Rom 8.2 NIV. The effect of Christ our life as our state of being means that we are alive in spirit and in life. Christ has come in our flesh and we are life-givers – often misunderstood and opposed by the children of the slave woman.
The effect of truth on the Believer is not always immediately observable. This is because our mindset determines how we frame what we call our reality. As a result this is what shapes our inner being as Paul explains in Romans Eight. Truth liberates and heals.
We can place ourselves in a parlous position in relation to ‘truth’ when we are addicted to our own ideas and have come live in co-dependency on these formulations, fictions and the communal identity that supports them. We have entered a kind of neurosis.
Here we need to ask ourselves if we love Christ the most or our familiar ideas more. Dietrich Bonhoeffer makes some pertinent observations regarding love and truth. ‘Human love has little regard for the truth. It makes the truth relative, since nothing, not even the truth, must come between it and the beloved person.’ Who or what is our ‘beloved person’? Bonhoeffer also challenges us with the words, ‘If you board the wrong train, it is no use running along the corridor in the other direction.’
For some the ‘beloved person’ is their source of beliefs and identity. When it is not the Christ or a false christ it drains us of life the more we rely on it.
LOSE YOUR LIFE AND FIND IT
Bonhoeffer lived the truth even though the living of it resulted in his death. Unlike some whose adherence to ‘their truth’ is leading relentlessly to their spiritual death.
An unconditional adherence to truth is synonymous with being a disciple of Jesus and can never be separated from dying to self and to all that we ever thought was the representation of ourselves. It is the living out of ‘Not I but Christ,’ and being ‘worthy’ of Jesus. We can prevaricate, rationalise and hide behind a wall of fictions and still ‘belong.’ But we will not be free, never fully alive and only partially sighted. We can take our place as a bind leader of the blind and live promoting a fragment of truth while oblivious of the truth that would make us alight with spirit and life.
TRUTH AND REALITY
Scott McKnight observes of Bonhoeffer ‘Truth was connected to relationships, and even more to reality, and even more to God’s reality, and God’s reality is found in the truthful Word of Jesus Christ. To tell the truth must [always] mean entering into the reality of God’s Word in Christ.’
Here ‘rightly discerning the word of truth is upheld as the basis of GENUINE FAITH.
INSULATED FROM LIFE
Tied to the law, we will always be muffled by religion. Religion will be our religion and scraps rather than a banquet of life will be our lot. Those who have will have more because they have valued the ‘more’ and made truth a beacon of their lives. Those who are losing what they had, are unaware of their relentless dilution. Buoyed up by their false self, they fade even as they fantasies blessing while denying ‘the more’ that is there for them by hiding in their well-used fictions.
In his book The Abolition of Man, C S Lewis wrote, ‘An open mind, in questions that are not ultimate, is useful. But an open mind about the ultimate foundations either of Theoretical or of Practical Reason is idiocy.’ Same with openness to living off your own gospel.
There is one gospel of the Kingdom, one expression that is the apostles teaching and one new and living way that is summed up in the words, Christ our life. We can humbly accept and flourish in this glory or live from our own ‘other gospel’ and private formulation as though we are wise folks. But the truth is we are living in idiocy.