Headlines from First Thoughts

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

The Challenge

“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” Other than “For God so loved the world,” no statement of Jesus commands more attention and captures the faith of believers over the years. Since the first century, Christians have believed that Jesus is the only way to heaven and lived beside people of other faith traditions. Long before there were Muslims and Mormons, there were Pagans, Polytheists, and Priests. The Romans thought the followers of the “Way” so odd that they labeled them as “atheists” because they did not believe in enough gods.

In the first century, Christians were faithful to their beliefs but remained civil, hopeful, and active in “overcoming evil with good.” From Peter in Cornelius’ house in Acts 10, to Paul on Mars Hill in Acts 17, they shared practices of hospitality, dialogue, and listening that provided platforms for a true Christian witness. We can learn so much from the time when Christianity was the minority religion and people of faith were struggling to gain a foothold in a very secular society. What we learn from the first century speaks volumes to us about how we live with Jesus as the way today.

During this year’s Winter Bible Study, I invite you to journey “Home by Another Way.” The title, taken from the magi’s journey home in Matthew 2, expresses the hope that God has for the world and the challenge for all of us as we live in a pluralistic world. The difficulties are many: we share this planet with people who worship much differently than we. We work and learn beside people from across the globe. How do we work together with all people and at the same time tell the story of Jesus? We know this story has been used for good and evil purposes. How Christians go about living with Jesus as the way makes all the difference.

This conference will discuss several key questions that face our world and the followers of the “Way” today:
Is everyone worshiping the same God?
Should we dialogue with people of other religious traditions, and if so, how?
How do I have a conversation with someone who is from another religious background?
How did the magi (and other pagans in the scripture) find God?
How can people from other faiths come to know Jesus?
How do I keep my religion from becoming evil?
What did Jesus mean when he said, “I am the Way, the truth, and the life?”

On January 12-13, let’s journey together and return home by the Jesus Way.

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