There once was a time, a very long time ago, when people were drawn in great numbers to a new religion. What, they must have wondered, do these people have that brings them such joy? In a world filled with inequality, political and social corruption, economic hardship, and I’m sure a multitude of other ills, there were communities of people who gathered together for companionship and mutual support. They called themselves followers of The Way. It had something to do with a guy named Jesus who died some years back. They said he came back from the dead, and his teachings guide their daily activities. Rumour had it they prayed and studied together. They dined together on a regular basis, but there was something unusual about the meal they ate. Whatever it was they did, they were changed for having been part of these groups. Perhaps they had a certain glow, a change in attitude or perspective. Perhaps they manifested a peculiar kind of joy. But there was more than just those qualities that made them stand out.
As these communities grew, the local authorities began to suspect they were up to no good. There were just too many of these gatherings taking place. What if they were plotting some kind of revolution? Orderly societies cannot allow cell groups to concentrate like that. Who knows what could happen! These followers of The Way were, shall we say, encouraged to disband. They were given opportunities to clarify their intentions, and were in many ways prompted to restructure their lives and activities to better harmonize with the surrounding sociopolitical culture.
These people of The Way, however, were willing to endure great hardship for this new religion. What were they thinking? Some even went so far as to lay down their lives for whatever it was that was so valuable to them. Can you imagine that? It seemed like the more they suffered, the more other people wanted what they had. It must have been a very powerful religion to inspire them so. Clearly there was something of tremendous value, that was worth everything to pursue.
Does The Way that we still follow, so many generations since those early years, still draw us with a mysterious attraction? Do we show others a peculiar kind of joy? Our activities may still make others wonder what it is that we do exactly, but do they cause people to say, “I want what they’ve got!”
What do you think?