Earlier this year Eugene Peterson published his third in a series of books on spiritual theology. The book, The Jesus Way, is a remarkable portrait of the nature of a true disciple of Jesus. It is a way characterized by sacrifice, failure, the margins, and holiness. He wrote, “More often than not I find my Christian brothers and sisters uncritically embracing the ways and means practiced by the high-profile men and women who lead large corporations, congregations, nations, and causes, people who show us how to make money, win wars, manage people, sell products, manipulate emotions, and who then write books or give lectures telling us how we can do what they are doing. But these ways and means more often than not violate the ways of Jesus” (The Jesus Way, 8).
And he’s right. This is the model people follow today because they are convinced that the only way to win the culture is to become the culture, or the only way to win the people of the culture is to reflect the culture so they will be interested in us–as if we will be thoroughly, completely lost without them. There is something to be said, however, for being willing to simply preach the Whole, Entire, Massive Word of God. There’s something to be said for preaching the hard truths that most people don’t care about or care to listen to.
PT Forsyth wrote, in the early 1900’s, “What is our task today? It is to take the mass of men (and not only the masses)–inert and hopeless some, others indifferent, others hostile to God–and to reconcile them with God’s holy will and righteous kingdom; but to reconcile them less with the ideal of a kingdom of God than with His way of it. They are keen enough about a kingdom which glorifies human ideals, but the trouble is about God’s ideal and God’s way, about Christ and His cross as the way as well as the goal” (The Cruciality of the Cross, 41-42).
The church must recover this cross centered preaching and those disciples of Jesus who claim to be saved must recover this cross-centered, sacrificial way of Jesus. The cross must be returned to the pulpit. The Jesus way, not the man way, must be followed and preached. Imagine these men, writing nearly 100 years apart, saying exactly the same thing to two entirely different generations of Christians. When do you suppose it will change? Will it start with you?