Old Paths And New Ways

“Old Paths and New Ways”

If “the hopes and fears” of all the years were met in Bethlehem at the birth of Christ, it must be said that the “worst of hell” and the “best of heaven” were met on the Cross of Christ.  And -  I’m thinking out-loud now - if Christ carried the day at the intersection of hopes and fears – and He did - , He most certainly carried the day at the intersection of the “worst of hell” and “the best of heaven” – and He most certainly did!  To come to believe this is to be “truth,” is to be on the way to becoming a follower of Jesus.

After the resurrection of Jesus, it’s evident that the disciples had hopes that the He was “. . . restoring the kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6).  I can only imagine their disappointment when it dawned on them that they were going to be empowered in the world “as is” to witness to the lordship of Jesus.  Let me say it this way, they were to walk on the old paths in new ways.  The same dusty roads, the same neighbors, the same Roman rule, the same hypocrisy Jesus had faced, the same fickle crowds that loved all that Jesus did but balked at most of what he taught . . , this was to be their world!  They were soon to be commissioned to live among this unruly and deceitful people who lived under harsh Roman rule and they were to do so in a “new way.”  This has been the challenge of the people of God since the beginning of time.

One of my daily my devotional disciplines is to remember that Jesus is “The Way.”  For me it means that He is the “Road” on which I travel, He is the “Way” (habits or mannerisms) with which I walk along this road, and He is my “strength” as I walk along this Way.  I trust Him for a “wide place for my steps” (Psalm 18:36) and the courage to take the next necessary step.  I trust Him to help me walk “old paths” in “new ways.”  A Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) kind of way, a Pentecost kind of way (Acts 1:8, 2:1-4; 42-47), an Upper Room Discourse (John 13-17) kind of way.

Our daily paths, routines, habitus (“knowledge that is not taught but inhaled; it is learning that we acquire without being aware that we are learning” – Alan Kreider) are not necessarily immediately changed when we come to faith in Jesus Christ, but we learn, are empowered, to adapt the way we walk our daily paths, manage our routines, and live “in” our habitus so that they will conform to the character of our Lord.  “Old paths in new ways.”  “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).  “Old paths in new ways.”

This is what Paul was talking about in Philippians 2:12-13:  “. . . work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and work for His good pleasure.”  In the power of the Holy Spirit, we are to work into our daily lives what we are learning in His Word.  So, we walk on the same sidewalks, live in the same neighborhood, work with the same people, go to the same school, have coffee with the same friends, drive the same streets . . . but not in the same way!  “Old paths in new ways!”

Many of these adjustments are immediate.  We immediately leave behind sinful practices, but we are often unaware of some of the less obvious changes that need to be made.  As we follow Jesus, we begin to see  these things and we then surrender them to His Lordship and His grace.  “Old paths in new ways.”

Jesus is coming back someday.  We long for that day.  We wait for that day.  Between now and then, we are called to be His witnesses in the middle of the “same old same old” routines and patterns of life.  We drive the same car, wear many of the same clothes, spend time with the same people, get our mail at the same place, pay our taxes and buy our groceries as always . . . but we do all of this in a new grace-filled way!  “Old paths in new ways!”  

Welcome to the Kingdom of God!  We are walking on some “old paths in some new ways” . . . all because Jesus is alive!

On the same journey in new ways . . .

Pastor J K

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