The Tao of Christianity

The main principle of Taoism is the idea of being in harmony with the Tao, which means “way” or “principle”. Tao is also the thing that is the source of and force behind everything that exists. When we live in harmony with the Tao—when we are people of The Way, we are flexible and agile, enjoying the ride as if we’re floating down a lazy river on an inner tube. We don’t fight the current. We go with it, knowing that the journey is what the ride is all about.

The early followers of Jesus were called “people of The Way,” and I’ve always thought that Jesus was a perfect example of one who lived in harmony with the source and force behind all things, the one and only Tao—God. Jesus went wherever God led him. This often meant he went against the flow of the prevailing culture. The same is true for people who follow Jesus today. The Tao Jesus teaches us is a way of compassion, universal love and acceptance, and a responsibility to care for each other, especially those discarded by society. Practicing these values keeps us in God’s all-encompassing flow of love, but sets us up for tension with society. That’s okay. Just as a river smooths away the rough edges of a rock, being in the Tao of God dulls the sharp edges of society.

Part of the reason we are calling our new building The Current is to emphasize God’s presence within and all around us, all the time. God is the current of the universe, and when we ride that wave, we are constantly taken to new and exciting places. It often means we have to be open to doing things differently. 
When we purchased the building, we hoped that other groups would share the space with us. We wanted to create a place that would welcome diverse groups, both faith-based and secular. We prayed that other congregations might want to use the space for worship and outreach, and that independent non-profits might use the space for meetings and events. As always, we just sort of put everything out there into God to see where the Tao would lead us. And as usual, something new, different, exciting, and unique has been presented to us.

Our good friends at New Day MCC have asked not only to use our space for worship, but also to become part of our worshipping and service community. It’s a new idea that has tremendous potential. Rather than using the space on their own, we’re tossing around the idea that New Day MCC would become part of The Current worshipping community, much like FCC Naples is also part of The Current. In essence, New Day MCC would become a ministry of The Current, contributing time and talent just like members of FCC.

Reverend Burns and I have done much work in the community together. This is an incredibly exciting opportunity, and one that would require all of us to be very much in the Tao. We would need to work details out over time, as we see how we all fit together and where we are being called to serve. We would keep our distinct Disciples of Christ identity, and New Day would keep their distinct MCC identity, because both are important and unique voices. Working together, we could send a powerful message to other faith-based communities about the body of Christ: we all have many gifts. We are all diverse and important parts of Christ’s body in this world. If that body is to continue Jesus' important, world-changing work, it makes more sense to work together. 

As Paul wrote, "Now if the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as God wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body" (1 Cor. 12.15-20).

This coming Sunday, June 21, we’ll have a congregational meeting to discuss this interesting idea. Please bring your questions, thoughts, hopes and dreams. We have the opportunity to be the body of Christ in a way Paul imagined and hoped for, but never really saw come to fruition. In many ways, this idea is exactly what the founders of the Disciples of Christ had in mind as well: Christian unity through diversity.

Christianity was never supposed to be about conformity. Jesus was a major non-conformist! Rather, Christianity has been, and should be, about all people working together for the common good—no matter what we call ourselves.


If you’re out of town and can’t make the meeting this Sunday, please send me your ideas and questions. I’ll present them to the rest of the congregation for discussion, contemplation and prayer. Our plan is to worship together July 12. We'll probably have a congregational vote after church on July 19, and if all goes well, begin our partnership in service to God on August 2.

FCC Naples has been presented with some amazing opportunities over the past seven years, and I think we’ve made some courageous and inspired decisions. We sold our building, we wandered around and did worship without walls, we created feeding programs, and moved ever more in line with Jesus’ progressive message of social justice and intimate, personal connection with God. For many, change is scary. For us, I think it is simply what we do. We change things. Sort of like Jesus.

Meditation: I am open to the way of God, the path of Jesus.

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