Only Two Ways

In an age of too-many options—too many cable channels, too many brands, too many things—I’m not sure we can believe there are really only two ways when it comes to life. Now I would be quick to add that there is lots of variety within each of these ways, but would still contend with the wisdom of the past that there are only two ways to live and one leads to life and the other, destruction.

Jesus, when speaking about living in the kingdom, taught there were only two ways, one broad and wide, the other narrow and tight; he even said that only a few folks find the nar-row path of the kingdom of God. His longest-living disciple John wrote about the “two ways” to point followers of Jesus within the way of life, not death. Later, an early Christian document called the Didache (Or, the Teaching of the Twelve Apostles), begins, “There are two ways…” then repeats much from the Sermon on the Mount.

However, way before even Jesus, Psalms and Proverbs employed the “two ways.” For example, the first Psalm does this with poetic flair.

In Psalm 1, there are only two kinds of people: the righteous and the wicked. There is no gray here. Life here comes only in black and white. We, with all our options, bristle at the no-tion but deep down most people are willing to admit that one can live either wisely or fool-ishly.

The Psalmist describes the righteous in three main moves. The righteous does not keep bad company, is devoted to God’s law, and is fruitful as a tree by a river. Conversely, the wicked will not be found in good company (when it really counts), doesn’t care about God’s law (notice that this should be vs. 4 ½ but the psalmist is silent on this point), and is like fruitless chaff from the wheat harvest.

The psalm ends with a final contrast showing God’s perspective: God is attentive to those in the path of righteousness but the way of the wicked can only lead to destruction.

The Psalms were the songbook of ancient Israel. So I think we should give notice that the first song in the book contains instructions for wise living. Is there a connection to be made here? Perhaps it is that worship has something to do with the kind of people we are become. If that is the case, then let me ask you once again to consider: there are only two ways. Pick carefully, ok?


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