Two thousand years after Jesus walked on the earth, hundreds of denominations, and who knows how many religious practices later, followers of Jesus are still trying to figure out how to connect with God, to build spiritual disciplines in their lives, to walk in ways that will bring them as close as possible to the divine.
All of us take this journey carrying biases…denominations and belief systems that are most familiar to us are the lenses through which we see other Christians and their spiritual practices. Our tendency is to seek new, fresh ways to experience Christianity, and we can view the past with disdain, seeing it as outdated and irrelevant.
In Finding Our Way Again, Brian McLaren invites us to revisit the past, the old ways of doing things, and to experience the disciplines that have kept Christians and followers of Yahweh grounded in their faith since the time of Abraham.
I was personally very excited when I read this book. Within it’s pages I found intelligibly written ideas that have been mulling around in my head but were still too nebulous to grab a hold of. Over and over I found myself saying “Yes! That’s it!” to things I read……the emphasis of Jesus bringing a new kingdom-not a new religion, the importance of sharing across different traditions in the Christian faith, how God simply moves to new people who are willing to learn when any sector of the Church is unwilling to learn and grow, etc.
Beyond arguing the importance of looking at the past, McLaren describes the nature of the apprenticeship of the ancient ways. The seven main spiritual disciplines are practiced, not just for their own sake, but in the light of the ancient three fold path – (1) to face your sin head on, confront it, and admit it (2) to see everything in light of God, and (3) being “infected” with God.
Other spiritual discipline books have often left me feeling like I have to “do” a list of things in order to become more spiritually connected. However, when I finished this book I felt more of a sense of freedom. I felt excited and compelled to become an apprentice of the ancient practices, and the whole endeavor feels grace-filled. In the past, disciplines felt guilt-ridden…for example, if I failed at a fast, I despaired. Having seen them from McLaren’s perspective, I now feel that when I fail, it simply provides evidence that I need to press in more to God, be more dependent on him, and rest in his strength to bring me into deep connection with him.
I think this book does a wonderful job of inciting the evaluation of one’s walk with Jesus, and encouraging people to cross denominational and historical boundaries in order to discover the practices and disciplines that stand the test of time in building solid, dynamic God relationships.