The Jesus Way by Eugene Peterson

I have been enjoying Eugene Peterson’s latest book, The Jesus Way. The book is based on this article published in Christian Century. Here is are a couple of quotes from the introduction

The popularized acronym WWJD (“What would Jesus do?”) is not quite accurate. The question must be “How does Jesus do it?” – page 8

More often 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 then not violate the ways of Jesus. North American Christians are conspicuous for going along with whatever the culture decides is charismatic, successful, influential–whatever gets things done, whatever can gather a crowd of followers–hardly noticing that these ways and means are at odds with the clearly marked way that Jesus walked and called us to follow. Doesn’t anybody notice that the ways and means taken up, often enthusiastically, are blasphemously at odds with the way Jesus leads his followers? Why doesn’t anyone notice? – page 8

If Christ is King, everything, quite literally, every thing and every one, has to be re-imagined, re-configured, re-orientated to a away of life that consists in an obedient following of Jesus. This is not easy. It is not accomplished by participating in a prayer meeting or two, or signing up for a seven-step course in discipleship at school or church, or attending an annual prayer breakfast. A total renovation of our imagination, our way of looking at thing–what Jesus commanded in his no non-sense imperative, “Repent!” is required.

The ways and mean promoted and practiced in the world are a systematic attempt to substitute human sovereignty for God’s rule. The world as such has no interest in following the crucified King. Not that there isn’t plenty of lip-service offered along the way across a spectrum ranging from presidents to pastors. But when it comes down to an actual way of life, most of the language turns out to be court protocol–nothing to do with the way we actually order our affairs.

Those of us who understand ourselves as followers of Jesus seem to be particularly at risk of discarding Jesus’ way and adopting the world’s ways when we are given a job or a mission to accomplish, when we are supposed to get something done “in Jesus’ name.” Getting things done is something that the world is very good at doing. We are hardly notice that these ways and means have been worked out by men and women whose ambitions and values and strategies for getting things done in this world routinely fail the “in Jesus’ name” test. Once we start paying attention to Jesus’ ways, it doesn’t take us long to realize that following Jesus is radically different from following anyone else.

The one positive thing that can be said for the ways and means approved and rewarded in this world is that they work, something magnificently, in achieving grandly conceived ends. Wars are fought and won, wealth is accumulated, elections are won, victories posted. But the means by which those ends are achieved leaves a lot to be desired. In the process a lot of people are killed, a lot of people impoverished, a lot of marriages destroyed, a lot of children are abandoned, a lot of congregations defrauded. – page 9.

3 thoughts on “The Jesus Way by Eugene Peterson”

  1. Crap! Now there’s another book I have to buy. Darn it all!

    (But also, thanks to you for the post and Eugene for being, well, amazing)

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