Finding the Way

He stops me in the hallway at work–my former teacher, now a colleague. He’s been studying Greek because, he says, teachers should always remember how hard it is to learn something difficult.


“Where in the Bible does Jesus say, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”?


“John 14, I think.”


He is especially interested in the word way, not sure if the English translation comes from methodos or hodos. The conversation sparks my own investigation. I’m glad the terms I look up are easy to understand (always a plus when dealing with Greek).


Methodos means a way of searching–inquiry. That meaning is secondary, but it’s the one my colleague mentioned. Methodos also means scheming, craftiness, and deceit. Strong’s Concordance finds it twice in Ephesians (4:14 and 6:11). Scriptures that warn us first of the cunning craftiness of men, then to beware the wiles of the devil.


But Jesus does not use methodos in John 14:6. He uses hodos.

Like methodoshodos has different connotations. “It can mean not only a road, a path, but also a practice.” So it is not only the way to go, the direction we take, it is also how we walk, how we encounter God and others through our lives.


Jesus is not a means of inquiry. He is the way to God. And He gives direction for our lives.


Before His followers were called Christians (Act 11:26), they were called the people of the Way. In Acts 9:2, the people “belonging to the Way”–hodos–were those Saul hoped to persecute as he made his way along the road to Damascus. Being called a follower of the Way was descriptive. Being called a Christian was an insult.


They stood out among the crowd. Some didn’t like that.


My colleague also wondered about the root of the word Methodism. Methodism’s founder John Wesley was well versed in Greek. Had Wesley intended to associate his view of the Christian life with methodos–a way of inquiry?


We were both surprised by what he discovered.


The name Methodism came in derision–just as the name Christian had in the early Church. John and Charles Wesley’s fellow students at Oxford called them Methodists because they were methodical in their spiritual discipline and their ministry efforts.


They stood out among the crowd.


John Wesley once said, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”


Wesley knew that to follow the Way was not the easy way

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Wesley, like Luther before him, did not set out to establish a new church. Luther wanted to reform Catholicism. Wesley wanted to reform the Church of England. In fact, Methodism did not even become its own denomination until it arrived in America.


In England and America, Methodism planted churches and encouraged moral living, literacy, and philanthropy. Wesley encouraged William Wilberforce in the fight against slavery. Wesley advocated prison reform. He urged Christians not to simply collect and send goods to relieve the misery of the poor, but to go to the poor individually, each Christian engaging in personal ministry.
 
When He walked this earth, Jesus invited people to follow him. Wesley didn’t invite people to follow Methodism. He invited people to follow Christ.


Strong’s Concordance renders truth (aletheia) in John 14:6 as reality. It renders life (zoe) as life that includes both the “physical (present) and . . . spiritual (particularly future) existence.”


The Way, Truth, and Life invites us to a path that leads to reality for eternity.


And there is no other hodos.


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Revised and reposed from April 2016

The Battle Against Noise

“Silence allows man to place himself joyfully at God’s disposal. It enables him to overcome the arrogant attitude that would claim that God is at the disposal of his children.” (Sarah 121 [230])
The battle is ongoing and almost universal.
We live noisy lives. And most of us don’t know how to find quiet contemplation–or even why we should try.
We dwell with noise all around us–and more importantly without internal silence.
The kind of silence that lets us connect to God. Continue reading “The Battle Against Noise”

ISIS, Rome, and the Whore of Babylon

I remember the moment it dawned on me. It was probably 20 years ago or more. I was sitting in church on a Sunday evening. The missionary to Germany was showing slides, German culture, German people, ministry in Germany. And then he said it.
“Islam is the fastest growing religion in Germany.”
It was really more like hitting a wall than experiencing a dawning. It struck through my being.
Catholicism is not the Whore of Babylon. Islam is.  If Islam were growing in Germany, it would also be growing all over Europe, which includes Italy, which includes Rome.
I come from a Christian tradition where, especially 20 or so years ago, this revelation would have met with disdain. I suppose that most people who have grown up steeped in the idea that someday Rome in the form of Catholicism would be the great false church of Revelation would find my idea ridiculous at the least and unbiblical at its worst.
But this week, Dale Hurd of CBN News is reporting that ISIS has formulated a plan to take over Rome and establish the apocalyptic Islamic state. The goal is to bring about Armageddon–to fulfill, not Christian prophecy, but Islamic prophecy. Continue reading “ISIS, Rome, and the Whore of Babylon”