Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Eugene Peterson: "Jesus is the way God comes to us" and "Jesus is the way we come to God"

The way we come to God is the same way that God comes to us.  God comes to us in Jesus; we come to God in Jesus.  It is the same way, the Jesus way.  God comes to us in Jesus speaking words of salvation, healing our infirmities, promising the Holy Spirit, teaching us how to live in the kingdom of God.  It is in and through this same Jesus that we pray to and believe, hear and obey, love and praise God.  Jesus is the way God comes to us.  Jesus is the way we come to God. ...

Jesus is the way of salvation.  We follow his way.  Jesus is the way of eternal life.  We follow his way.  The way Jesus does it is the way we do it.  Jesus is the way we come to God.  Period.  End of discussion.

And Jesus is the way God comes to us.  On earth, Jesus is the way of faith and obedience and prayer - to God.  From heaven, Jesus is the way of God's revelation, God's salvation, God's blessing - to us.

Everything we need to know of God comes by way of Jesus: "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory (John 1:14 RSV).  St. John's Gospel, carefully and in a most leisurely way - "unresting, unhasting, and silent as light" - tells us the story, all the operations of the Holy Trinity revealed to us in Jesus, the Christ.

Several decades ago Charles Sheldon wrote a book that was widely read, What Would Jesus Do?  Good question.  But if another question is not given equal billing alongside it, it yields answers that are only a half-truth.  We must also ask, What is God doing?  Jesus tells us what to do; at the same time he tells us what God is doing.  Jesus is God in action.  Jesus is God speaking.  Jesus is God touching lepers.  Jesus is God forgiving a condemned and dying criminal and an adulterous woman hounded by men holding rocks and poised to kill her.  Jesus is God blessing children.  Jesus is God giving sight to Bartimaeus, life to Lazarus.  Jesus is God calling down judgment on religious posturing.  Jesus is God weeping over Jerusalem.

Jesus.  Jesus.  Jesus.  Jesus is the way we come to God.  Jesus is the way God comes to us.  And not first one and then the other but both at the same time.  Not God's way to us on Sundays and our way to God on weekdays.  It is a two-lane road.  Much mischief has been perpetrated in the Christian community by not keeping both lanes open. ...

Psalm 84 speaks of men and women "in whose hearts are the highways to Zion."  We know something about highways and we know what happens when an accident blocks the lane we are in.  We sit there stuck, while the cars on either side of the road are free to drive home, or to work, or to the mountains to ski, or to the ocean to surf and swim.  It is not enough to have a single lane.  We require a highway with the traffic going both ways - Jesus.  Our way to God.  God's way to us.

~ Eugene H. Peterson, The Jesus Way (2007)

2 comments:

Jon in the Nati said...

Nice to see that Peterson was able to refrain from quoting his own paraphrase of Scripture. It is only by the grace of God that 'The Message' is not among the list of versions approved for public worship in TEC. Not that that has stopped churches from using it...

Bryan Owen said...

Hi Jon. I take it that you don't care for Peterson's 'The Message'?