The Life Jesus gives
CH 1 - LIFE AS A PATHWAY
Many of the truths of Scripture are represented with metaphors so that we can have a better and practical understanding of an abstract truth. Throughout the Scriptures (particularly in wisdom literature) the course of our life is pictured as a journey down a roadway or a path. This metaphor is intended to help us visualize many important truths about life.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)
In this verse we see that the path of our life’s journey is leading us to an inevitable destination and that this destination can be far different than what we imagine it to be. Specifically, one’s life may be headed toward ultimate destruction despite the fact that the one walking that life path thinks that he is going in a direction that is right and beneficial for him.
“The highway of the upright is to depart from evil; he who keeps his way preserves his soul.”(Proverbs 16:17)
Conversely this proverb teaches us that the life path of the righteous person is one that moves away from evil and in doing so “preserves” his soul. The idea of preserving is that of guarding, protecting, or keeping careful watch over something. In this case the one who chooses a life path that moves away from involvement with evil is making a choice that will protect his soul from danger.
This metaphor is used repeatedly to illustrate that life has a direction to it, and that what we choose now will impact what happens to our lives down the road of time and circumstances:
“He who keeps instruction is in the way of life, but he who refuses correction goes astray.”(Proverbs 10:17)
“The way of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD, but He loves him who follows righteousness. Harsh discipline is for him who forsakes the way, And he who hates correction will die.” (Proverbs 15:9-10)
“Do not enter the path of the wicked, and do not walk in the way of evil.” (Proverbs 4:14)
This sort of metaphor is not restricted to Old Testament wisdom literature. Jesus Himself employed this same metaphor to help His disciples understand what life is all about.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who
go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the
way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Here Christ warns His listeners that there are two general paths of life. One looks easier and more pleasant and is more readily traveled but leads to destruction. The other life path is more difficult and less traveled but it leads to life. Again one’s direction in life is pictured as a road, and expresses that one’s choices lead to an inevitable destination that lies at the end of that road. This same point was highlighted in a conversation between Jesus and one of His disciples:
“Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, and how can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:5-6)
In this case Thomas unknowingly was asking how to get to heaven. Jesus’ response was that He Himself is the only path that leads to heaven, indicating that if one wishes to get to heaven it is not simply a matter of living according to certain rules, but through one’s connection to the person of Christ.
Therefore as one ponders what it means to live life as a disciple of Jesus Christ, we must first understand that the way of a disciple is a lifelong journey and not simply a few right choices. Additionally, it is a way that requires one to be intimately connected to Jesus Christ. But how is one to discern among all the options presented to us in this world (by both Christians and non-Christians alike) which is the correct path? After all the warnings from those passages cited earlier is that it the wrong path can often look like the right one to us.
The answer is that the Scriptures were given to us so that we might recognize the right path, and be able to stay on that right path as it winds its way to its ultimate destination.
“Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the LORD!” (Psalm 119:1)
“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” (Psalm 119:105)
Therefore in order to understand the life to which we are called we are to see that the Scriptures are in a sense our road map so that we can travel along the path that leads toward the life that God intends for us. This metaphor is a helpful one and will be employed throughout the rest of these studies. The idea to keep in mind is that as we seek to live a life that pleases God, we need the Scriptures to direct our way and help us to identify the correct course to take from all the potential misdirection that we will encounter as we go forward in our lives.
We must have a basic distrust of our own inclinations about life and recognize that an initial part of our call as disciples is to accept that as we enter this journey we are filled with many false ideas about life. This is complicated by the reality that we do not even know for sure where our ignorance and misunderstandings lie. So in a sense we begin our journey lost and disoriented, but with the impression that we do know which way is right. So our commitment is to put our trust not in our own inclinations, but only in the truth that is revealed in God’s Word. Everything else we hear or are exposed to must be evaluated in light of the truth we find in God’s Word before it can be accepted. That does not mean that the Bible addresses every subject, but rather that it gives us a grid through which we can have an understanding regarding the parameters of truth for every subject.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)