November 26, 2020

Breather + Eugene Peterson on “The Church”

I’m going to take a brief breather from original posts for a while. I’ll be postings some iMonk 101 posts and some extended quotes from voices I believe are important and timely.

I have a lot of preaching to prepare for in the next few days, as well as some major school events to plan. I also need to spend some time considering what I’m going to try and do with Lent this year.

I’ll continue to moderate comments.

thejesusway.jpgHere’s a wonderful summary of “What is the Church?” from Eugene Peterson’s book The Jesus Way.

But Jesus as the truth gets far more attention than Jesus as the way. Jesus as the way is the most frequently evaded metaphor among the Christians with whom I have worked for fifty years as a North American pastor. In the text that Jesus sets before us so clearly (John 14:6) and definitively, way comes first. We cannot skip the way of Jesus in our hurry to get the truth of Jesus as he is worshipped and proclaimed. The way of Jesus is the way that we practice and come to understand the truth of Jesus, living Jesus in our homes and workplaces, with our friends and family.

A Christian congregation, the church in your neighborhood, has always been the primary location for getting this way and truth and life of Jesus believed and embodied in the places and among the people with whom we most have to do day in and day out. There is more to the church than the local congregation. There is the church continuous through the centuries, our fathers and mothers who continue to influence and teach us. There is the church spread out throughout the world, communities that we are in touch with through prayer and suffering and mission. There is the church invisible, dimensions and instances of the Spirit’s work that we know nothing about. There is the church triumphant, that “great cloud of witnesses” who continue to surround us (Hebrews 12:1). But the local congregation is the place where we get all of this integrated and practiced in the immediate circumstances and among the men, women, and children we live with. This is where it becomes local and personal.

For those of us with few choices in regard to church, Peterson’s words are very helpful and constructive.

I’ll see you back in this space in a few days.


  1. I think it’s interesting to note that the very first name for Christians that was recorded in the Bible–before they came up with the term Christians–was “followers of the Way”.

  2. Perhaps, it’s also interesting to notice that in Asia, the world for religion is “dao”, which is the way, too. So Christianity sounds to us Asians, especially Vietnamese like me, as “the way of the Heavenly God (Lord)” (Dao Thien Chua).

    In such a context it’s very meaningful to talk about Jesus the only way.