Jul12WedJuly 12, 2017
Liberal. Conservative. Progressive. Traditionalist.
Hardly a day goes by without these adjectives appearing in my BBC international newsfeed or showing up in various written or spoken conversations around the topic of the climate of North American church. I don’t know if you describe yourself using any of these terms, but I try to avoid them at all costs.
One reason is that these four, politically charged words are so frequently tossed around that it’s difficult to really pin down an accurate definition. Their definitions morph substantially depending on the context.
Another reason that I avoid them is because, as Christian, I’m seeking to conform to the image of Christ – and which of these four words best describes Jesus of Nazareth? (Feel free to hash out that question with your disciple-making friends!)
Instead, I came across a different term in our Daily Scripture Reading from Jeremiah last week that I’d like for us to consider.
In Jeremiah, chapter 6, the Lord described the surrounding culture as greedy, unjust, corrupt, unable to blush and stubbornly against God’s ways (verse 13-17). What is more, He also accused spiritual leaders as being ones who foolishly put Band-Aids on deep wounds and inaccurately proclaim “peace” when there is no real peace.
Even though verses were written over 2500 years ago, they could just as well have been written for today. Yet in the midst of this despairing report, the Lord asks Jeremiah (and others) to live differently. He said, “Stand by the roads and look. Ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it. There you will find rest for your souls” (v16). The Lord was asking for leaders to arise who don’t carry the same priorities or agendas as the surrounding culture. He was looking for people who are willing to walk the ancient paths.
In Jeremiah’s mind, the term ‘ancient’ likely meant returning to the Mosaic law which can be summarized by Deuteronomy 10:12 & 19, “Fear the Lord your God, walk in all His ways, love him and serve the Lord your God with all your heart and without all your soul…and love the sojourner, for your were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” This is ancient living. And it was this kind of living which Jesus embodied for us.
The more that I observe our political and social landscape, the more that I am convinced that we don’t need more liberals or conservatives. Nor do we need more progressive or traditional leaders. Instead, “Those who say they live in God should live their lives as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6, NLT). I believe that we need more people who are willing to make ancient, Biblical priorities, their own priorities.
Ancient priorities include God exalting worship, fervent prayer, radical hospitality, delighting in God’s Word, servant-hearted love and faithful disciple-making. Wouldn’t it be incredible if the term “Christian” was always associated with those characteristics? Indeed, it might be culture changing!
As you face this week, consider how it is that the Lord may be leading you back into ancient paths. It is there that you will find rest for your soul.