The “Way”

For many years, I’ve self-identified with “Follower of the Way” instead of “Christian” in regards to my spiritual walk. I recognize that “Christian” means “little Christ”, and I know that there are days when I am so UNlike Christ that I wouldn’t want to bring same to His name.

So… when I stumbled upon Acts 24:14: “But this I confess to you, that according to the Way, which they call a sect, I worship the God of our fathers, believing everything laid down by the Law and written in the Prophets…” (ESV), I thought I’d found a very good descriptor of my spiritual life.

Imagine my interest when I ran across a book called “The Way of Chuang Tzu” by Thomas Merton. (Click here for the Amazon link). I picked it up at Half Price books for about a buck, and it’s been one of the best dollars I’ve spent in a long time.

Let me give you a quote from the introduction:

For Chuang Tzu, the truly great man is therefore not the man who has, by a lifetime of study and practice, accumulated a great fund of virtue and merit, but the man in whom “Tao acts without impediment,” the “man of Tao.” (p. 25)

As a follower of the Way of Jesus, I read this introduction with a profound sense of “aha… here is truth!” For Chuang Tzu describes the Tao, a Chinese concept of “Way” as having two aspects: “that which cannot be named” –  the Eternal Tao; and “the Tao’ that can be named’, which is the ‘Mother of all things’.” (p. 20-21) This is strikingly similar to the Biblical concept of God the Father being the source of all that is created, and Christ being the agent through which all things were created.

I found that I could not get away from imposing my understanding of God-as-Ultimate-Creator in my reading, every time the word “Tao” was used.With that in my mind, the quote took on a whole new meaning:

The truly great person is therefore not the one who has, by a lifetime of study and practice, accumulated a great fund of virture and merit, but the one in whom “God acts without impediment,” the “person of God.” (my variant)

What was driven home to me this morning was not that I need to be righteous for righteousness sake; and not that I needed to be righteous because it would make God happy; rather, that through my connection with God, the Lord’s righteousness would come to be IN me. This is a different thought about my walk with Christ than I’ve had before.

I will be interested to see how Chuang Tzu’s “Way” will interact with the “Way” described in Scripture. I’ll post more insights as I have them.

Blessings! KFJ – Ed


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Pastor Ed Backell

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