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By KEITH ANDERSON
In the early days of Christianity, Christians acquired the name “People of the Way,” indicating that these followers of Jesus were committed to following in the footsteps of Jesus. Just as the disciples lived and walked with Jesus to learn all they could from him, not only listening intently to his every word, but also watching his every move — the miracles, the encounters with the religious leaders of the day, and so forth — they all shared an understanding that one day they would stand in the sandals of the Master. Whatever Jesus said or did, then the students would one day say and do likewise.
Instead of starting churches and social ministries, Jesus focused his ministry on setting people free from all that oppressed or held them back. Things like illnesses, demon possessions, misgivings about God’s work in the world, unjust rulers and practices, and the like. Jesus said of his own ministry, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly (John 10:10).” St. Paul picked up on this idea of living life as Christ lived. In Philippians Paul writes, “If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind (2:1-2).”
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a place in our communities for church buildings, denominations, or theologies that resonate and define our understandings of God and scripture. But more importantly, it seems to me, living by faith entails the work of the renewing of our minds and the transformation of our lives into the image of Christ. Or as one friend put it, to love others as Jesus loved, and to know God as Jesus knew God.
May these words shape our reflections this next week, called Holy Week, as we hear again the story of Jesus making his way towards death on the cross in obedience to the will of his Father in heaven. Let us remember that Jesus frees us from our baggage in order to love even our worst enemies. May we live as Jesus lived, love as Jesus loved, die to ourselves and our selfish ways as Jesus did, for these are the ways of Christ.
The Rev. Keith Anderson is pastor of First Lutheran Church.
Perspectives is a regular column sponsored and written by members of the Ketchikan Ministerial Association.