Friday, March 20, 2009

The Part Of The Sermon Where We're Told To Watch Our Asses: Part 1

“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

I’ve come across this passage numerous times in the last month, and I can’t seem to shake it. It scares the crap out of me because of how unsettling it is. It’s this constant reality check, and usually it will catch you strolling along the wide path. I’ve been talking a lot lately about choosing between two kingdoms, and this is it in a nutshell.

I can’t tell you how easy it is to believe that because of some sacrifice and tough life decisions I’ve made, I’m safely on the narrow path that will bring life. Man, there are so many times I trick myself into thinking I’m there, but I’m really on the other path. I just spent a whole chunk of time getting irritated around someone’s watering down of the narrow gate image, and then realized that the faults I saw in the other person’s journey were faults I didn’t want to see in mine. Perhaps that’s why the log and speck in the eye comments come from Jesus right before this. See how quick we can jump onto that wide path when we think we’re walking the narrow one?

One of the greatest lies I’ve ever heard is this: When you become a Christian everything gets better/easier in your life. You find me a ‘legitimate’ precedent for that anywhere in scripture and I’ll take you to the Keg for lunch. We buy this lie because we don’t want to be challenged/stretched/grown. We want to find that comfortable place in faith where we get a ticket to heaven, and ride things out until then. Call me blunt, but that sounds like the wide gate to me. I can say this however: living this faith out kills me every day as I am forced to confront pain, have awkward conversations with people, and spend my time doing things I don’t always want to do. But this upside is this: I get the reward of having hope, of seeing pain healed, of seeing broken relationships slowly restored, of seeing people feel valued, and that’s far more rewarding now than a comfortable life on cruise control offers.

I won’t lie. I’m also confused by this narrow gate image because it makes the kingdom of God seem like this thing that’s incredibly hard to get into, but some of the beautiful parables about it, like the parable of the banquet feast, show the opposite type of image: the gates are flung open and all are welcome to rush in. Perplexing no? For a while, with big questions like this I would chalk it up to yet another “mystery of God” that we’re supposed to spend our time “journeying” through. How post-modern of me. But by chalking it up, what I’m really doing is shirking my responsibility to wrestle with it, and believe that some truth will be revealed. Often I don’t; I just resign myself to journeying, unsure of any destination I’m journeying towards.

This could go on for hours folks. No lie. I spent three hours journaling about this yesterday, and a long while working on it tonight. I was afraid to write this because I feared that the zeal that has consumed me for this passage would put people off, and I’d finally become the religious nut I’ve sworn to never become. You can view me like that if you want, I don’t really care at this point. All I can really say is that this Sermon on the Mount is pretty revolutionary, and the ante keeps getting upped the deeper I get into it.

1 comment:

Steve said...

Dave, your willingness to wrestle and your perception of the need to wrestle are making me think... not that I have time to do that, but I want to be stirred up in that sort of wrestling that you're modelling now. Funny how you're feeling so unsure of it all provides such an encouragement and challenge. It leaves me glad that I have a brother who's part of the whole hoping for something at the other end of the wrestling...