There is a mile stretch of the Jordan Parkway Trail that I run on most mornings. Most days I share the trail with one or two other early rises. Sometimes my early morning run becomes a mid-morning run and there are many more people on the path.
Most mornings I cross paths with a bike rider who rides in the opposite direction of my running. Referencing my three huskies I run with he calls out, “Good morning, Iditarod! It’s good to see you!” I started replying back, “Good morning Tour de France. Have a good day!”
He is one of many on the astonishingly diverse trail. There is a couple who walks with a stroller. They don’t have a baby, they load it with cat food and feed the feral cats along the trail.
Some come from the nearby office park and utilize the trail for walking on their breaks. There are a lot of moms walking with their children close by on their scooters. Often, bikers will use it as part of the route they use to get to work or school.
Many people use the trail for exercise. Seasoned runners are training for their next ultra-marathon. Some are seemingly getting started on a journey of better health. And others, like me, seem to be average and want to be able to have the extra dessert without much guilt.
Yes, the trail is incredibly diverse. Ethnicity, economically, socially, style, experience, there is no one category that can lump all of us together. Except for the fact that we utilize the parkway. We love the parkway!
The parkway is a beautiful metaphor for what the people church should be: astonishingly diverse.
After Israel was divided into to a northern and southern kingdom, after the nation was taken into captive into the land of Babylon, God would provide a way of salvation. Throughout the book of Isaiah, a metaphor of a highway is used. It was an avenue for people to come to God. You should notice, the highway is not just for the nation of Israel, this highway is for all people – every tribe and tongue. Everyone is invited to experience the grace of God.
“Go through, go through the gates; prepare the way for the people; build up, build up the highway; clear it of stones; lift up a signal over the peoples. Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.” And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.” (Isaiah 62:10–12, ESV)
The limitations of the Jordan River Parkway as a metaphor for a similar highway become evident quickly. The trail offers usage for a diverse crowd; however, there is not much else in common. People are using it for their own agendas and programs. The highway spoken of in Isaiah is a higher calling. It speaks about the invitation for all people, everyone moving in the same direction, and everyone receiving salvation at the end.
Jesus is the Highway
Jesus is salvation.
“And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, since he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”” (Luke 19:9–10, ESV)
Jesus invites everyone.
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12–13, ESV)
Jesus gives his Spirit.
“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”” (Luke 11:11–13, ESV)
Jesus is the highway.
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, ESV)
The highway of Jesus is astonishingly diverse.