Being Followers of the Way
Our Psalm this morning invites us to consider what it is we have or are passing on to the next generation. Verse 4 says “We will not hide them from their children, but declare to the ' next · gener'ation:” So what is it we are to pass on? The Psalmist continues “your glories O Lord and your might, and the ' wonders · that ' you have ' done.”
The first term used to describe Christians as “followers of the Way” Being a Christian wasn’t about agreeing with certain theological statements, it was about how we lived – the Way of Christ, the Way of God. It is this way that is at work in Jesus’ interaction with his disciples, with the authorities, and with sinners like tax collectors and prostitutes. We are followers of the Way. It is this we are to pass on. So how might we describe this Way?
The reading from Exodus tells the story of the People of God’s impatience and grumbling. Despite being led out of slavery, being saved at the Red or Reed Sea and being fed with quail and mana they still complain and still will not trust Moses or God. It was an ongoing story, one still played out today. Do we trust? What do we trust God for? To completely trust is a very hard thing; it is also a very freeing thing.
Paul in his letter to the Philippians encourages his readers to live humility just as Christ lived. “3Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. 5Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,”
We often overlook humility, but Saint Bernard of Clairvaux said, “No spiritual house can stand for a moment except on the foundation of humility. It is the first condition of a joyful life within any community”. Humility is where trust leads us.
The Principles of the Third Order describe humility this way. “We always keep before them the example of Christ, who emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, and who, on the last night of his life, humbly washed his disciples’ feet. We likewise seek to serve one another with humility.
Humility confesses that we have nothing that we have not received and admits the fact of our insufficiency and our dependence upon God. It is the basis of all Christian virtues.
The faults that we see in others are the subject of prayer rather than criticism. We take care to cast out the beam from our own eye before offering to remove the speck from another’s. We are ready to accept the lowest place when asked and to volunteer to take it. Nevertheless, when asked to undertake work of which we feel unworthy or incapable we do not shrink from it on the grounds of humility, but confidently attempt it, through the power that is made perfect in weakness.”
Like trust, humility is hard. it goes against everything our culture says is important. We are constantly told that we have earned this or that, and that you deserve the other. Trust and humility is being ready to admit that nothing is ours by right. All we have and all we are is gift. A free gift. It is the foundation of being followers of the Way. And it is what we are to pass on.