by David Sisler
You can't attend church for very long without hearing a speaker warn about the threat of worldliness creeping into the Christian life. When you hear that peril announced, you may be tempted to think it is a new problem, but it is actually as old as the church itself. No matter where you look, the warning is sounded.
Some have been so fearful about the encroachment of the world into the spirit of the saints, they have written elaborate sets of regulations. With those rules, they hoped to protect their followers from danger. Their intentions may have been well-meant, but their precepts frequently became a minimum standard for Christian vitality and Jesus always calls His people to maximum living.
It was Jesus, Himself, who first issued the call to holy living: "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 strait is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."
To the person who has always insisted on the right to choose his or her own path, those words seem restrictive. A narrow gate and a narrow road are extremely limiting. What kind of an attraction is this? To walk a narrow way, a lonely way, a way that is difficult to find? Who in our modern society would even consider accepting such an invitation?
The call to the strait gate and to the narrow way is meant to be restricting. Jesus wants us to know that there are certain things you cannot take with you into the kingdom of God--the way is too narrow. There are certain people you cannot take with you into the kingdom, because they will not come.
Just moments before He spoke about the gate and the way, Jesus said, "Ask and it shall be given to you, seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, the door will be opened."
Asking is an admission of helplessness. Seeking is effort. Knocking is persistence. Following Jesus has always involved a narrow gate, a lonely walk, and a persistent search. "The kingdom of God," Jesus said, "has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it." Jesus wants you to know, the kingdom is entered by faith, but spiritual progress takes a deliberate, determined walk.
The broad way, Jesus said, is going somewhere. It leads to destruction. The people who choose that way are trying to save their lives, but instead they lose them in the traps of the easy way. The narrow way, too, is going somewhere. It leads to life. It is one of the great paradoxes of scripture--the people on the narrow way save their lives by losing them for the sake of Jesus.
Choosing the narrow way pays dividends. When you do the will of God, at whatever cost, nothing has been lost. Jesus said, "I tell you the truth. Everyone who has left his home, brothers, sisters, mother, father, children, or fields for me and for the Good News will get a hundred times more than he left. And in the age to come, he will have eternal life."
God is in no one's debt. No one ever gave everything for the cause of Christ and was poorer because of it.
Christianity is being swamped with the doctrine of an easy gospel. Much is given freely. Forgiveness is yours for the asking. So is the power to resist temptation. But so much about serving Jesus is costly. Joy, for instance, is experienced only through obedience. Fruitfulness is achieved only by permanent attachment to Jesus, the True Vine. Without the spiritual investment, there will be no gain.
It is a lonely decision to enter by the strait gate and follow the narrow way that few can even find, but it is the only way to eternal life. You are either on the way to life or in the way of destruction. You determine your own destiny.
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 9/23/95
Copyright 1995 by David Sisler
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