This past week as I was driving by a gated community, it started me thinking about Jesus’ quote, Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
This picture of a narrow gate touches on a really deep concern a lot of thoughtful people have about religion and Christianity, it is often thought the narrow gate or the narrow way leads to a narrow mind to unthinking, irrational, intolerant extremists, and, of course, it is very true that many of us who call ourselves Christians are often guilty of such things and have been in the past. Here's what's interesting. If you look really carefully and if you examine the life and teachings of this man, Jesus, you notice what looks to our culture like a very strange paradox. On the one hand, Jesus makes statements that are outrageously exclusive in our eyes. Most famously Jesus once said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me."
Jesus did not present his teachings as optional suggestions for a better life. He claimed to know how things are. He claimed that what he said wasn't just wise; it was true. He claimed this truth mattered more than anything else in the world, and yet... this man who made claims that were staggeringly exclusive, pursued relations with people who were breathtakingly and shockingly inclusive. He deliberately touched an untouchable leper. He allowed a known prostitute to bathe his feet with her fair. He commended a hated Roman centurion. He partied with despised tax collectors. It's almost like Jesus thinks a relationship with him is now exceeding human religions categories.
It's like the narrower Jesus gets in his devotion to God the more broad-minded he is in his love and reaching out to human beings, go figure. Now, his followers often missed this dynamic. The narrow gate is not narrow-mindedness. The narrow gate is not doctrinal correctness. It's not always being right and having everybody else being wrong. The narrow gate is not religious intolerance. The narrow gate is doing what Jesus said to do. The narrow gate is obeying, and that's another word that has gotten messed up. Obeying creatively, intelligently, joyfully, the one who has mastered life and death, the one who knows. Obeying him in all things is the narrow gate.
What's the broad gate? Well, the broad gate is just doing anything else. The broad gate is just doing anything else except seeking to obey him in all things. It is only in the narrow gate that we find freedom. Another time Jesus put it like this:
If you [obey] my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Now, those words, ...you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free, are inscribed on more university campuses in our country than any other saying, but they do not often include the prior phrase, "If you obey my teaching, then you really are my disciples, and you will know the truth." If you obey...
In our day, we generally think freedom is the opposite of having to obey anything. We usually think of freedom as the absence of restrictions, but it is not. The issue Jesus is pushing is this question... Whose disciple will you be? Whose disciple will you be? Most people think in our day, even a lot of people in churches, think, the church exists to make Christians and that Christians are people who believe the right things you have to believe in order for a narrow-minded God to let you into heaven.
That idea has to get reviewed because Jesus never called anybody to be a Christian (look it up), but he called everybody to be his disciple (prostitutes and tax collectors and Roman centurions and religious leaders and Samaritan lepers), and disciple was not a confusing or mysterious or even particularly religious term. A disciple is somebody who has committed themselves to be with another person to learn from them how to do something.
Here’s the question. Have you become a disciple of Jesus? Have you gone through the narrow gate? That's the decision of a life time. Sharing the love of Jesus so all become His followers. All aboard!!!
The word became flesh, … So, let’s get some skin in the game