Christianity is not first a set of beliefs. First, it is a way of life, following Jesus of Nazareth into the eternal mystery of God. The book of the Acts of the Apostles (11:26) tells that the disciples were first called “Christians,” by others, in the ancient Syrian city of Antioch. The Jewish first followers of Jesus simply called it the “Way.”
The Judeo-Christian tradition spans 5,000 years: 3,000 years of Jewish history formed the matrix for Jesus of Nazareth, and then 2,000 years of Christian history since. This tradition contains so many treasures. There are all manner of resources for living the Way of Jesus; all we have to do is haul it out of the chest, polish up the shine a bit, remind ourselves how it all works, and then put it to good use in our lives, families, work, and communities. Human nature doesn’t change, although our pre-frontal cortices evolve and our bodies adapt to lifestyle changes. Society does evolve, including culture, customs, language, and technology. Because human nature doesn’t change, the rules for living a healthy life of growth and happiness that reaches towards wholeness and holiness are ever the same. For example, the first resource of the series is a 2,000 year old church manual for new converts, newly translated and contextualized, offering ancient wisdom for life on the Way that speaks as clearly today as it did in the Jewish tradition and the teachings of Jesus.
This series is about hauling stuff out of the chest and polishing them up a bit. It will feature occasional compilations on various themes of healthy and holy living. The concept is to assemble a series of aides-mémoire to the Way, aiming for readability, brevity, and clarity. The idea is to create reading material for a 15-minute break in the day in a favourite reading spot with a beverage and/or a snack. Constructive feedback is welcome and so are suggestions and ideas.
May these treasures from the tradition assist us in following the Way of Jesus.
Compiled for the Anglican Parish of St. Mary’s, Russell,
Gerrit Botha, 2020