People of the Way
I always find that Jim Wallis, the American Christian and social activist, has something worthwhile to share. For many years he has been able to combine a deep personal commitment to the Lord within community, along with dedicated work for the transformation of the society in the light of Christ’s teaching.
We can be ‘tempted’ as the Lord’s disciples to focus on merely the private and the devotional or to get caught up in ‘churchy’ matters such as liturgical niceties.
In his book, Call to Conversion, he speaks both of the practical and communal nature of our Christian discipleship.
‘The early Christians were known for the way they lived, not only for what they believed. For them, the two were completely intertwined. The earliest title given to them reflected the importance of their kingdom lifestyle. They were not called the people of “the experience” or the people of “right doctrine” or even the people of “the church.” Rather, they were the people of “the Way.” It is equally significant that the Christians were known as “the people” of the Way. More than just individuals who had been converted, they were now a people, a new community of faith, which had embarked together on a new way of life. To follow Jesus meant to share Jesus’ life and to share it with others.’
This approach resonates with the Franciscan perspective: the most frequent verb in Francis’ writings is ‘to do’. Obviously Francis was not advocating senseless activism. But there is the realisation that we truly believe, not what we say we believe, but what we seek to put into practise in daily living with the help of God’s grace.