Jesus is the way
During professional supervision, one of the questions my supervisor will ask is, “How is the swimming going?”
I know the question has a double meaning — there is a concern for my physical wellbeing but also the question is about my prayer life. I try to swim at least three times a week in what I call “the prayer pool” because as I swim I am involved in intentional prayer.
I pray for people, I pray for the church, I pray for those I have disappointed, angered or let down, I pray for myself, I pray for forgiveness, I pray for wisdom and inspiration, I pray for insight into the vision of God for our church.
Maybe because I am in a pool there is fluidity about these prayers; they flow into one another, thoughts and ideas not captured by words.
This morning, as I prayed, with Easter and Synod and the nature of our church splashing around in my mind, words attributed to Jesus in John’s gospel — “I am the way, the truth and the life” — swam through my mind.
“No-one comes to the Father except through me.”
I swam with those words for a few laps — words that so often are used to justify exclusion — feeling prompted to think of these words as inclusive.
Whether or not we enter the presence of God is Jesus’ doing, not ours. The cross is about what God is willing to do, not what we are willing to do. Salvation is a God initiative and we do not have the right to determine or set the guidelines for who is included and who is not.
Our role is to witness to the way and the truth and the life as we experience it in our lives. Our call is to follow in the way that Jesus has opened up to us through his teaching both in word and action.
Our call is to represent and proclaim the truth of God as given expression to by Jesus in his life and, most powerfully, on the cross. Our call is to be people who live out the life of Jesus. Believing is about living out the gospel.
The cross and the resurrection speak the truth that salvation, eternal life, entry into the presence of God is about God’s action not ours, God’s choice not ours, God’s good works not ours, God’s testimony not ours, God’s sacrifice not ours.
The way to God is by the grace of God. It is not for us to judge. It is for us to witness.
As we live in the way, seek the truth, we can have confidence in the grace of God for us. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians says, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
This speaks to me of one who has seen the way and knows the truth, the truth about God revealed in the passion and death of Jesus, and desires to live his life by it but knows that, ultimately, life and whatever hope we might have for resurrection is in the hands of God.
Wherever we experience grace, Christ is present; wherever we experience forgiveness, Christ is revealed; wherever we experience reconciliation and healing, Christ is revealed; wherever we experience salvation language that is God-centred, Christ is revealed; wherever we experience compassion for the poor and lost, Christ is revealed; wherever we experience sacrifice of self for the good of others, Christ is revealed; in whatever is life-giving, Christ is revealed.
We are called to be witnesses to that truth, to live that truth and to recognise and draw out that truth in others.
Who is or is not counted in is not our call, for Jesus is the way, the truth and the life and no-one comes to the Father except through him.