One of the challenges of communicating the Third Way is just that – it is a Third Way. So much of who we are and how we do things are in habits and patterns shaped over years. Decades of bad habits lie just below the surface of the calm exteriors we project. Whether you invest years in an image of God that is mere social justice or mere make a decision to get to heaven, they become idols made of human hands. Both are right but when they undercut the path to Jesus as our Rabbi, they degrade.
The Third Way’s focus on the great and beautiful God whose love invites us and through his love changes us at the deepest levels of who we are, is profoundly comforting and energizing. But it is also terrifying in the depth of change that occurs as we are shaped to be more and more like Christ, sent to heal our broken world in unknown and risky ways.
As a body of believers tells others about Jesus and prays for the power of the Holy Spirit, strange things begin to happen: lives are transformed, communities are transformed, some people are very threatened and some bad things happen.
But that is the church.
At St. Mary’s we have seen the lost come to accept Jesus as their Lord, we have witnessed the amazing transforming love of God in the changed lives of individual believers, we have marveled in families conforming to Christ as their teacher in their day-to-day, we have gloried in authentic fellowship of our small groups, we have praised God in the genuine healing of members through the baptism and power of the Holy Spirit, we have suffered through loss and rumor as the threatened have left the fellowship.
But that is the church.
An important Psalm for the early church was Psalm 2. It is quoted in praise as believers in Acts Four prayed for courage:
“O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying,
`Why were the nations so angry?
Why did they waste their time with futile plans?
The kings of the earth prepared for battle;
the rulers gathered together
against the Lord
and against his Messiah.’
“In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will. And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
Our King is out of tune with this world. The powers of this world know it. The Third Way embraces it as the necessary path to putting the world to rights in His name. If you are not out of tune with the old and old and not part of the new world struggling to be born, then you have compromised far more fatally than you know.