Show Us The Ancient Paths

This is what the LORD says: Stand by the roadways and look. Ask about the ancient paths: Which is the way to what is good? Then take it and find rest for yourselves. But they protested, "We won't!"
-Jeremiah 6:16

Photo: Pixabay
When Jesus came, he called people to God and to himself.  While he participated in and often honored the practices of faith in Judaism, he also critiqued it.  Jesus stood in the tradition of Jeremiah, calling the people back to the ancient paths.  Jesus may have had Jeremiah's words in mind when he said, "All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves."(Matt. 11:29)

There is a core to the way of life that Jesus calls us to and it is himself.  He is the way and the life (Jn. 14:6).  He is not just the key to salvation and the great teacher of God's truths, but he himself is the way to live.  Christianity is living through Christ and Christ living through you.

The ancient paths are simply walking with God.  In researching this verse, I found many good sermons and a book or two.  It is easy to call people to your brand, your denomination or non-denomination, or make the case that your tribe is the closest to the pure and authentic spirituality lived out in the pages of the Bible.

The ancient paths are not something that is man made.  They are not in a building or on a hill top.  The ancient paths are simply walking with God on a daily basis (Micah 6:8).

It is good to love your Christian family and honor your tribe, but sectarianism is a sin.  The pride in your brand is sickening.  The problem today with the church is not that it is full of sinners, but how divided it is.

Why are so many Christians so narrow in mind and practice that they only seek out others "like them" for fellowship and in some cases, look down on other tribes in Christs's body as being inauthentic or probably "not saved"?  The world and the evil one laugh at our division.  The words of Apostle Paul yell from the page, "Can Christ be divided?"(1 Cor. 1:13).  The answer of course is an emphatic, "No".

Jeremiah 6 is a word to a backslidden people.  It is a time of crisis and apostasy.  They have false prophets and corrupt priests.  Yet, God calls them to come home.

The fifteen verses before verse sixteen are worthy of study and reflection.  Disaster is coming, there is a false peace among God's people, and these folks are so sinful, that they are shameless.  I am not going to say, "ah ha, that is the church in my country, today".  But it might be.

My point is that, like the folks that Jeremiah spoke to, we today may be confused about how to walk with God.  We may be looking for how to walk the walk.  Jeremiah 6:16 gives some instruction on this:

1. Stand.  No matter how bad you are doing, stand up.  Come to attention.  Stop what you are doing.  Halt.

2.  Stand by the roadways.  Realize that even today, you are at an intersection.  A right turn is available to you.  Wisdom is calling to you and grace is available.

3.  And look.  Open your eyes, perhaps your spiritual and physical eyes, and look.  To see, you must first stand (pay attention or come to order).  Look at the road you are on and see the off-ramp in front of you.

4.  Ask about the ancient paths.  "You have not, because you ask not" (James 4:2), and "Ask and it shall be given" (Matt. 7:7, Luke 11:9).  You must not only get up (stand), but also ask.  Faith is an action.  You must exercise faith and do something.  As much as God wants the best for you, you have to ask him for it.  Ask.  If you are discontent with your walk, with your church or the church at large, ask for the real deal, the ancient paths that Jeremiah 6:16 speaks of.  Ask.

5.  Which is the way that is good?  We want the good way and not the bad way.  Looking at the crossroads, standing, paying attention.  Turn off the noise, turn off the electronics.  Set your stuff aside.  Stand at attention, come to order, and look and ask, "Which is the way that is good?"  this is not about "good to great" or perfection, but simply (it is simple) about good and bad.

6.  Then take it.  You may not identify as a charismatic Christian, but the truth is that all of Christianity, the Christian whole experience, and walking with God, and that's the ancient paths; is charismatic.   John 1:12 is the proof text for this.  Becoming a Christian and being a Christian is wholly a charismatic experience and life. What God does and and did and is doing is beyond our natural world, but God interacts with us on the natural plane, breaking in.  God's kingdom, that reigns in heaven (Matt. 6:10), is continually breaking into this earth realm.  The Spirit of God will show you the way.  Jesus promised that is how it would be (John 16:13).  Ask God, the Holy Spirit, to show you, to speak to you, to give you ideas, to teach you.

7.  And find rest for yourselves.  This takes us full circle back to Jesus words,
“Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
In Eugene Peterson's, The Message translation, this is how it reads:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
-Matt. 11:28-30

True or authentic spirituality gives us rest.  The ancient path is the 7 days a week, 24 hours a day, abiding in him (John 15:4-7).  There is no Christian life without abiding in Christ.  Jesus called people into God's kingdom (Matt. 3:2, Mk. 1:15).  Jesus called people to follow him (Matt. 4:19), and when you have decided to follow him, he tells you that you must deny your self and take up your cross (Matt. 16:24).

If you do not abide in him, you can do nothing, as a Christian (John 15:5).  If you refuse to deny your self and take up your cross, but claim him; what are you?  Could you be someone like the pseudo-Christians in Matthew 7:21-23, to whom the Lord says, "I never knew you"?

The ancient paths are not found in the newest church in town, nor in the oldest one.  The Ancient paths are the walk ways of you and God, in authenticity.  God has not changed.  He is the same as he was with Adam and Eve, Paul and John, and to today.  He desires to walk with you and have meals with you.  When you are in Christ, your heart will cry, "that I may know him!"

The authentic church are simply people walking with God who come together to encourage one another and be edified, so that they can go out into the world and tell others about Jesus and make disciples, then bring them to meet other Christians and be encouraged and edified.