PROFOUND . . . "I AM" - Riding Along the Interstate
Ever since I was a young boy I have been fascinated by freeways and roadmaps. The Rand-Mc Nally Road Atlas was a constant source of entertainment and the Interstate Highway System was the magic carpet to transport me to locations I could only dream of seeing. When not looking at road maps, I would draw my own with crayons on the fine print of the classified section of the LA Times. A favorite activity with my dad was taking a ride on new sections of freeways in Los Angeles as they were being built during the early 60’s. And to this day, I still enjoy reading maps and anytime I am going to take a trip to a new place, I look at the relevant maps of the area firmly establishing in my head the way to go. I rarely rely on GPS directions and find knowing the route ahead of time makes the journey simpler and I think safer. It’s best to know the way.
Pastor Ed explained that the Roman road system was extensive and vital to the Roman Empire. Such a system was essential for maintaining the peaceful domination of the Empire. An amazing factoid was hearing the length of the Roman system was only surpassed in total mileage only recently by the United States. The 48,000 mile U.S. Interstate Highway System launched in 1956, first as a military defense necessity and then second, as essential to commerce not unlike the Roman Roads. As Ed waxed on eloquently on the word, way, as in “I am the way, the truth, and the life . . . .” he put Jesus’ statement into the context of the expression, all roads lead to Rome indicating to all the people of that time, all of life leads to Jesus.
Jesus’ statement of being the way, the truth, and the life is of monumental significance and consequence. It is not politically correct today; make no mistake, it was not politically correct back in the day when uttered by Jesus. Legions of well-educated, highly credentialed, many acclaimed philosophers, professors, politicians, writers, artist, scientists, sociologists, religious leaders have debated and attempted to debunk Jesus’ proclamation. Throughout history, people everywhere have pondered these words. Flowing from these words, Jesus asks all Christ-followers to be witnesses and make disciples everywhere in the face of immense resistance and hostility. Pastor Ed makes the point of communicating this “exclusivity” to others. This is what Billy Graham did so long and so well before entering into the presence of God. Each of us looks in the mirror and we know we are not Billy Graham. How do we convince people? We don’t. We are to be witnesses of what we have seen, heard and experienced and those who hear are the triers of fact and will decide. So what are we faithful people of GateWay to do?
If God opens the door to a large forum like Billy Graham, then walk through the door. But I think most of us will not face that prospect. Yet each of us can “communicate” the way, the truth and the life to others just like Billy Graham did. Much focus is on Graham’s speaking but equally compelling is his character that opened up opportunities for relationships. Presidents would seek him out not the other way around. In a recent op-ed piece in the New York Times, Jonathan Merritt wrote of Reverend Graham, “You’ve been talking about your time with the presidents,” I said. “I’m struck by the way you’ve been able to offer yourself as an encouragement, a resource, and a truth-teller to leaders from both parties. A lot of young people like myself today have witnessed how many Christian leaders got lost in the partisanship and the power that accompanies politics. What advice could you offer to a new generation of Jesus-followers? How can we be more like you?”
In troubled times like these, people seek answers. People seek peace. People seek comfort. As Christ-followers we know the Way and have His words, “Let your hearts not be troubled.” Even though we are not Billy Graham, we can be the same. We can exemplify and live out Christ-likeness. As we go about our daily lives we encounter any number of people, some of whom we have repeated contact. Our God stories, our godly character, and our godly compassion can open doors to these hearts. When we have those open doors then we can witness – communicate what Jesus has done in our lives which hopefully clearly states; I am the way, the truth, and the life.