Wednesday, January 27

The Attraction of the "Path of Righteousness"

"He leads me in the path of righteousness for his name's sake." I hardly need to give the reference to this verse, do I? OK, well, you know it's Psalm 23. And it's verse 3. It's the "path of righteousness" that has caught my eye and now my "pen." What is it? How is it that the Lord actually leads us into it? Then, a word about "for his name's sake."

Path = Progression => Pilgrimage
A path is more than a fact, a point of knowledge. We learn many facts in our lifetimes, but they don't necessarily change the way we live. Yet it is precisely this point which the Bible repeatedly gets across. The Psalmist cries out, "Make me to know your ways, O LORD; teach me your paths" (25:4). Even the well-worn Psalm 23 provides the same: "He leads me in paths of righteousness" (v. 3). And Psalm 86:11 prays: "Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth" (86:11). And Psalm 119:33, "Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes, and I will keep it to the end." Notice in this last verse, that the antecedent to "it" is "way." He doesn't pray, "Teach me your statutes" which is fine in itself. But teach me "how to live by your statutes." Help me to embrace them as my everyday lifestyle. We could multiply verses, but I don't think that would enforce what has already been laid down. It's biblical, that's the main thing we need to know.

I suspect much of our teaching style in Sunday School, Small Groups, and in our pulpits may have accurately displayed the truth, but it will not necessarily have communicated the need for a worldview change, a divinely empowered new way to think and to live. (Of course, it could be argued that IF we are not teaching life change, then we really are NOT teaching accurately) So, what should we do?

Hitting the Path
First, recognize the larger issue of pathway living (read pilgrimage?), confess where we have kept God at arm's distance this way, then repent (which means a change of heart, moving in the right direction).

Second, make note of the numerous places that "way" and "path/pathway" are used in relationship to spiritual growth. Become familiar with their broad-reaching effect, so that your thinking is larger and more God-encompassing, and therefore, worldview altering.

Third, and probably most vital after the above are in place, is PRAY specifically that you'll think this way. DAILY! The Psalms do that; they pray for this change. We need to do the same, . . . and keep on doing it!

Example: John Bunyan's Christian
John Bunyan became well known for his book, Pilgrim's Progress. The classic attraction of his book is not found when Christian loses his burden at the foot of the cross, as wonderful as is that moment. The weight of the book is found in the way in which Christian and his traveling partners progressed down the path of the Christian life. Pilgrims stay on the move, and toward the right goal--though not entirely without the occasional detour, to be sure! Christianity is all about movement toward God, knowing him, obeying him, embracing him. Our churches need lifestyle Christianity, which emits a categorical change, such that every day, all day long believers experience everything through God's eyes, not by force but willingly.

May God direct our path.


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