Over the last week I have been thinking a fair amount about walking. It was the theme for this year’s week of prayer for Christian Unity which has just come to an end, exploring the Micah verse “This is what the Lord requires of you: to do justice, to show love in kindness and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8) I guess that was the starting point for the ramblings which I am about to try and draw into some kind of coherent order.
For some reason (which isn’t too much of a leap of the imagination) this also brought to my mind the John 14:6 verse, “I am the way, the truth and the life”. One of the seven “I am” statements in John, its most common interpretation seems to be its use to exclude the possibility of salvation for those who do not profess the Christian faith. Needless to say, my own thoughts drifted off in a different direction, shifting the focus from “the” to “way”, which in any normal sentence would probably be considered the more significant word, but often seems to be sidelined in preference for discussion about the use of the definite article.
I don’t speak Greek, but I believe the experts all agree that the “I am” of the statements in John speaks of deeply held identity. These statements speak deeply of who Jesus really is. Equally, as I understand it, the Christian theology of the Trinity acknowledges that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are not three facets or different identities which together make up God, but that God in his/her entirety is present in each of the three persons; so when Jesus expresses his deepest identity, he expresses the fullness of God’s identity.
Assuming both of these things to be true means that God’s deepest identity is to be “the Way”: ironic perhaps then, that this verse is so frequently associated with a destination, with an arrival point, with where we might end up after death; when perhaps what Jesus is trying to express is exactly the opposite. We do not need to concern ourselves so much with where we are going, how we will get there or who else will be let in to the final destination: because God is not a place of destination.
Equally if we believe in the eternity of God, in his unending adherence to his truest identity, he must continue to be the “way” which at least to my mind speaks of a pilgrim God, being “the way”, journeying on “the way”, and constantly creating “the way.”
And so it is that we are invited to “walk humbly with our God,” shifting our focus from worrying about the importance of where we are going to knowing we walk with a God who also holds journeying as core to his identity; Not following a pre-carved out path to a given destination where we will find life and truth; but co-creating “the way” with a God who calls us, as we journey to be true to our identities and live life in all its fullness.
Enough ramblings for one day, perhaps?