by: Ian Andrew Nelson
Every single one of us likes the idea of being on a journey in life. One of the most popular words used by instagramers these days is “adventure.” The idea of life as a path or road we all find ourselves on—navigating through the twists and turns, discovering new experiences, overcoming obstacles to achieve a sense of forward momentum—is a universal appeal.
In fact, this is one of the clear metaphors for life that Jesus used. For example, at one point, Jesus says,
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)
The biblical authors often use the exact same noun that Jesus uses in the above verses. Sometimes it’s translated as “way,” and other times it’s translated “road.” It’s a figure of speech, not only in the Gospels, but in the New Testament as a whole, specifically for describing the church. Christians are followers of Jesus, or followers of “the way.” Long before it was ever called “Christianity,” it was actually called “the way” or “the way of Jesus.”
And that’s exactly what life as a Christian is. It’s not just about believing something in your head or having a statement of faith. It means actually following Jesus with your life. Learning the way of life that He has modeled for us, the way that He has called us to live. Reading about the way of life He describes in the Bible and putting it into practice while in relationship with Him.
And central to what Jesus says about life is that there are two different ways that people can go. One way is a narrow road that leads to life. Another way is a much broader path, that many people take, which leads to destruction. Later, Jesus claims that He Himself is the way. Jesus is calling all of us to choose to follow His way in life over and against all the other ways of life we can see in culture around us.
You see, every day as followers of Jesus, we have a choice: To live the way of Jesus, or not. Every day you have a decision … to go the way of pursuing money and stuff, or to go the way of pursuing Jesus. To chase after power and glory, or to chase after Him. To choose the way of violence and retaliation, or to choose the way of love. To build our own empire for ourselves, or to live entirely for God’s kingdom.
And there are only two choices! Personally, I really want to believe there’s an Option C … a safe in-between, where I can follow Jesus when it’s comfortable and when I agree with what the Bible says, but then do my own thing the rest of the time. But all through the scritpures there are only two choices. It’s black or white.
In the Torah, the primary message is “choose life or death.” In the wisdom literature books, it’s “the way of the fool or the way of the wise.” In the Prophets, it’s “choose this day who you will serve: Baal or Yahweh.” And in the Gospels, it’s the way of Jesus versus all the other ways. And every single day, you and I wake up with a choice. Actually, we face dozens of choices.
It’s date night, and you go over to your girlfriend’s apartment afterwards—which way will we take? You’re a salesperson for your job, and you can be honest and risk missing out on a sale or you can fudge it a little bit and make a ton of money. Which way will we choose?
You go to post on social media. You can brag about how cool you are and who you know, or you can just tell the truth! Which way will we choose? You go shopping this week. You can buy the $100 pair of jeans and people will take your fashion seriously … or you can buy the $20 pair on discount and use the rest of your money to be generous. Which way will we choose?
When you face the fork in the road this week (and trust me, you will), remember this: It’s not just that the way of Jesus is right. It is. But it’s also that the way of Jesus is best. There’s no better way to live. Sometimes we think of following Jesus as this somber, heavy, religious thing. And it is hard, I admit. Not easy. But it’s also the best way to live! It’s the way to joy and peace and freedom and generosity and gratitude and, above all, it’s the way to Jesus!
May we never forget that the reward for following Jesus, is Jesus! And this coming week, when we come to the fork in the road, or the choice along the way—and you have to choose between the way of Jesus and the way of materialism, or anger, or bitterness, or bragging, or sexual immorality, or being right in an argument, or whatever it is—may you remember that His way is life, because He is life.