Tuesday, May 09, 2006

A Comment on "The Way"

A reader (I won't use names when referencing comments on this site) wrote, along with much general agreement, the following:

What I fear about your comment is that interpreting "The Way" to mean to be like Him in deed is watering down this statement, making it more generic and widens the path. see Matt.7:13.

I can certainly understand that fear. I don't think the danger is too great, however. Following the way of Jesus would be no small challenge, and it would be bringing a belief in his message into action. The path would not necessarily be wide- it would be difficult, without a doubt. It would be generic only in the fact that all people should be treated with the kindness and love that Jesus demonstrated for us and demanded of us. The call to us to follow The Way is unique and powerful, not generic or watered-down.

I know that in my life, it is difficult to see the meaning of faith and belief without an accompanying action. What does it mean to say I have faith in something if an action does not go along with it? This is one reason I think that an emphasis on action is necessary.

Also, I think it is easier to build faith through action than the other way around. Faith is rather like a plant that needs to be tended (action) and watered (action). If I follow "the way," I will see that it works, I think, confirming my faith and nurturing that faith. This process will help me so that, over time, when I follow The Way (or what I think is The Way) and things don't work out like I expect, my faith will not be crushed. The foundation will be there to allow me to question my own understanding of the path or my expectations about outcomes. Very much like this dialogue helps me to challenge my assumptions.

It's not that I don't think faith and belief are important, but rather that I think that in American Christianity, at least, we've developed an imbalance where expressions and testimonials have replaced the kinds of actions that would, in all likelihood, lead to very different acts and results than we currently see in our society. See my posts below on the rate of incarceration in the US and on capital punishment as possible examples.

Thanks for the comment! It's nice to have dialogue.


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