Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”(John 14:6)
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.”(John 1:14)
It is no mistake to say our world is broken: as Dr. King said, “Dangerous passions of pride, hatred, and selfishness are enthroned in our lives; truth lies prostrate on the rugged hills of nameless cavalries; and men do reverence before the false gods of nationalism and materialism.”(From the sermon, “Transformed Nonconformist”, reproduced in Strength to Love, p. 18). This has been the case since King spoke the words, and has continued, though it’s been swept under the rug. But, in the last year, the rug has been thrown out. Racial injustice continues, expressed hostility to minorities continues. People group together in their tribes; politically the other side is demonized. Religious Fundamentalists seek to use religion(be it Christianity, Islam, Hinduism) to impose their hateful agenda on others.
I grew up in a Religious Right echo chamber: we were far right conspiracy theorists, liberals were demonized as God-haters who wanted to remove all traces of America’s Judeo-Christian heritage, Muslims were stereotyped and demonized as out to kill non-Muslims, a jingoistic foreign policy was advocated.
I look at the world, the violence, injustice, and deceit, then I look to Jesus, and I see Someone worth following, Whose teachings inspire me that it doesn’t have to be this way. He scandalized the powers that be by hanging out with those the establishment called “sinners”: tax collectors(basically Jews who collaborated with the Roman occupation), prostitutes, and others. However, Jesus interacted with all sectors of society: Roman soldiers(who were a foreign power occupying Judea and Galilee), tax collectors, prostitutes, Zealots(who called for an armed uprising against Rome), scholars, fishermen, etc. Why, He had, in His inner circle, both a Zealot and a tax collector. He spoke up for “the least of these”(Mt. 25). He criticized most harshly those among the leaders who cared more for rules than people, who laid heavy burdens on people, who took advantage of the defenseless. He challenged the systems of power and privilege, saying the first shall be last, and the last first. Jesus also said , “The kings of the Gentiles Lord it over them, and those in authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ Not so with you; instead the one who is greatest among you must become like the youngest, and the leader like the one who serves.(Luke 22:25-26). In a time of imperialism He says to love your enemies, and that “He that takes up the sword shall perish by the sword.”(Mt. 26:52).
While He was God, according to Christian teaching, Philippians 2 says that He gave up His divine privileges; according to other verses, this was to fix the brokenness of the world. In our world, people seek to go to the top, regardless of who gets trampled in the process, and jealously guard their position. Jesus shows a different way. In the second verse I quoted at the top of my post, it means that Jesus is essentially God’s moving into the neighborhood. In Colossians 1:20, it’s written that God is trying to reconcile all things to Himself through Jesus; in Ephesians 2 it’s written that Jesus destroyed the hostility between Jews and Gentiles (and thus between all groups in enmity), and the church concluded in Acts 15 that no culture has a monopoly on the Gospel. Basically, Jesus’ being the Way means that He is the Way from God to us; that He, by His life, showed us what God is like.
This allowed me to break out of my shell to reach out to liberals, Muslims, and the LGBT community. Many liberals dismiss conservatives, especially Trump voters. I didn’t vote for Trump; in fact, I think he represents many horrible things, and a lot that’s wrong with our world. But, I choose to interact with his supporters(mainly because they include my friends; by the way, I am mixed race). First, I was taught, growing up, that liberals are terrible, that abortion is killing babies, and thus depraved. However, upon interacting with pro-choicers online, I came to see their viewpoint. (I will not be discussing this, as I’m a cisgendered male who can never get pregnant; however, I do think there is too much dogmatism on both sides.) Jesus met people where they were, and guided them to wholeness.
Well, these are my thoughts, as a Christian. In another post, I will address some of the issues the first verse I quoted raises, and other issues raised by my post. I recognize that Christians aren’t the only ones with stories, or that can be good. So, if you are a non-Christian, I am willing to listen to your story if you are willing to share it; and, please, leave any objections in the comments, and I will try to include them in the follow-up post.