Numbers 22:26 “Then the angel of the LORD went further, and stood in a NARROW PLACE where there was NO WAY TO TURN TO THE LEFT OR THE RIGHT.” Is this a prophetic glimpse of Jesus standing/walking in THE WAY that would set the direction and path of us?
Psalms 91: 11 “For He will give His angels orders concerning you, To protect you in all your ways.” Is this evidence that we have spiritual beings who are assisting us to find and walk in THE WAY
Mattew 6:13-14 “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For THE GATE IS NARROW AND THE WAY IS CONSTRICTED that leads to life, and there are few who find it.
Modern surveys by Barna and others tell us that as few as 5-7 % of those who profess faith in Christ actually can be said to rely on their faith as a guide for life, study the Bible regularly, pray expecting answers, participate in faith community, and experience a sense of God’s presence consistently in their lives. I do believe that faith in Christ is the gate. Is there more we need to learn about Christ’s example and teaching that gives us more definitive markers for walking in THE WAY or do we need more specific instructions, along with our sense that “I know it when I see it” in Jesus or others? We already know it is not as simple as keeping the ten commandments, it is FOLLOWING JESUS, as he told the rich (and self-righteous) young ruler. Jesus gave us numerous examples of how his WAY demands a higher standard that observes the spirit of the law, not merely the letter of the law as practiced by the Pharisees.
Deuteronomy 5:32 “So you shall be careful to do just as the LORD your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right or to the left.” This is repeated again and again. It’s got to be as plain as the nose on our face, for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.
2 Chronicles 34;2 “He did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and WALKED IN THE WAYS OF HIS FATHER DAVID AND DID NOT TURN ASIDE TO THE RIGHT OR THE LEFT.
Members of the early Christian community, before they were called Christians, were referred to as “The Way”. I think Wesley’s great depositum gives us the theoretical way- sanctification and the spiritual means of grace and the spiritual disciplines, give us tools. But I think we need to go further back than the Wesleyan tradition to the apostolic tradition of The Way. What IS it? How is it that we seem to be expected to know it when our “eyes can see” and our “ears can hear”?
I had an “aha” moment years ago when I was praying with a woman who was in a real predicament. As we talked through her situation and what she was contemplating at the time, I realized she needed a two-fold approach to see how to fight the battle she was up against. She had a trusted pastor she had taken into her confidence and she had me. I was taken to Exodus 17 as we talked and prayed. In that chapter Joshua is fighting the Amalekites. Moses is holding God’s staff above the battle. As long as he holds it up, Joshua’s forces were winnnig. When he wearied from the task and dropped his hands, the Amalekites prevailed. Aaron and Hur came alongside on each side, sat him on a stone and held his hands up with the staff of God in them and so Joshua won. Then God told Moses to write this on a scroll as something to be remembered. Further Moses said that because hands were lifted up against the throne of the Lord, the Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation. Yet God had said he would completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven. While the people named “Amalekites” did disappear from the earth, there are still enemies that need to be defeated before we reach the Promised Land and even as we take the land and begin to have to dwell in it. What can we learn about the battle itself and how it was won against the Amalekites that will help us in spiritual battle now? It was shown to me that there were two different assisting attendants who came to Moses’ aid….. one was Aaron, the representative of the priestly tradition and during the time of Christ that class had legal, medical, and spiritual authority over the Hebrew people. They were THE PROFESSIONALS of the theocracy and it was through them that Rome managed the conquered land. But on the other side of Moses was Hur. He was a craftsman, a tactician, a problem solver responsible for the everyday logistics of the tabernacle construction and movement and directing daily tasks. So, I observed that in fighting our spiritual battles on THE WAY, we need both the theoreticians, the instruction and directives of the religiously educated elites. But we also need the practical guidance of the tacticians, the foot soldiers, the MacGyvers, the craftsmen. We get one in weekly worship as we attend the gathering of the body of Christ. We get the other in the weekly band meeting and with prayer partners who can help us in very practical ways to deal with the trials and dilemmas that come our way. Pastors don’t have the time to do that with every person under their care. It has to be parceled out into smaller tasks to people who are “full of the spirit” or eagerly growing in the spirit, at least. Immediately after Exodus 17 comes the leadership lessons of Chapter 18 which reinforce the double-punch approach. Gather at the tabernacle for worship and teaching. Gather in the small groups for practical working out of our faith in the details of life.