Let me be very clear. I am not saying that Jesus calls us to live a more moral life. I am specifically saying that Jesus offers a better way of being human and a better life in both practical and spiritual ways. Too often the Gospel has been reduced to a moral code. Following Jesus becomes a demand to observe moral restrictions. Be a better person. Stop swearing. Don’t do immoral things. Don’t drink. Don’t smoke. Don’t dance. Don’t gamble. The “better life” devolves into a long list of things we should not do. I want to approach the Gospel as practical advice for living a better life, for enjoying life, for experiencing grace, and for experiencing love.
One of the ways we can gain access to the quality of life that Jesus wants for us is by changing the narrative of our lives. The world, our culture, media, entertainment and even our families teach us a narrative that explains how we live, how we relate to one another, who is family, who is other, how justice works, and so on.
Jesus offers a different narrative that challenges the narratives we inherit. We saw this when we looked at the lie of redemptive violence. Jesus calls us to reject the celebration of violence and embrace peace. We saw this when Jesus made the bold claim that God is not found in the Temple, or in buildings, or in special places set aside, but rather, in him and in us.
The Christian practices of breaking bread together, giving generously, fasting, praying daily, weekly worship and Sabbath keeping, observing the seasons and feasts of the church year, and pilgrimage all lead us more deeply into the new narrative and the new way of being human. We keep and teach these practices together and support one another to live the better life Jesus offers. That is what we are about and that is what we have to offer.