The first Christians apparently had but one simple and telling term by which to refer to their project. They called it “The Way.” The Apostle Paul deplored the idea that the people of The Way should ever tolerate divisions within their midst. He raked the Corinthians over the coals for allowing schism to rend their fellowship (1 Corinthians 1-4 ), and he blasted those from the Pharisaical party who sought to divide the churches along ethnic lines.

He warned the Romans to watch out for schismatics and have nothing to do with them (Romans 16:17,18). He implored the Ephesians to see that Christ had broken down every barrier to true fellowship, and they should now be concerned to build one another up in the Spirit (Ephesians 2). There is but one Body, Paul insisted (Ephesians 4:4), and it is every believer’s duty to “work hard to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:3, my translation).

There is only one Way of salvation—by the grace of God through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, and one hope of our calling—that we might stand now and forever in the glory of God to the praise of His holy and exalted name. Thus, from the beginning, those who identified themselves as The Way were made to understand the importance of unity, oneness, collaboration, encouragement, and commonality. The first Christians—the followers of The Way—turned their world upside down for Jesus.

We, on the other hand, appear to have dumped our contentious, competitive, fragmented, and frenzied age upside-down on our own heads, making lots of noise and offering lots of activity before the watching world, but with disproportionately little in the way of lasting impact. Increasingly, the Ecclesiastical Highway is forced to run along the margins of society—which, in case we haven’t noticed, runs very near the ledge. Two thousand years after The Way burst onto the historical scene, its legacy has become a thousands-lane highway where people of varying communions putter along or race ahead, sometimes weaving in and out of traffic, but all the while looking out for their own safety above all. Most folks travel along politely enough, but there’s a fair amount of road rage along the great Ecclesiastical Highway, and plenty of abandoned cars litter the shoulder… more