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Posts Tagged ‘narrow gate’

Enter by the narrow gate…wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it…Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Matthew 7:13-14

For the Few…

This passage frightens a lot of people.

‘Narrow and difficult’ sounds to them as if the Christian walk is a daunting, practically unachievable task, akin to traversing hell on a high wire. This is not at all the case for the follower of Christ.

Remember, Jesus said,

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Since we have the assurance that there are no contradictions in the Bible, we can know that Jesus would not say ‘come’ to this easy and restful place, and then turn the tables. That notion is contrary to all we know about Jesus.

Nevertheless, the verse reads, ‘narrow and difficult’ is the way, so what are we to make of it?

Narrow

Have you ever fallen off a sidewalk?

Me either.

I’ve been pushed off sidewalks and I’ve been pulled off sidewalks, but I’ve never fallen off one. I have however fallen off of many a curb, but curbs are not sidewalks, are they?

I liken the narrow path of the Bible to a sidewalk, wide enough for perhaps three people to walk abreast; adequate space to walk comfortably with Jesus and perhaps a brother or sister we encounter along the way. Naturally, plenty of room exists fore and aft.

This narrow walkway is a safe place.  Falling is not inevitable, but rather the result of bad choices we make along the way.

Difficult

Do you have a working definition of the word difficult?

Are you sure?

In my quest to unravel the Matthew 7:13-14 passage, I compared the New King James text to the King James text. Interestingly enough I discovered that the KJV version does not read, ‘narrow and difficult,’ it reads ‘strait (straight) and narrow.’

In other words, the KJV version uses the word straight for narrow and the word narrow for difficult.

That led me to Strong’s Concordance where I discovered that while straight does in fact mean narrow, the word narrow (in the Greek) means ‘a compressed way,’ or more specifically, ‘to press (as grapes).’ It occurred to me that this narrow, difficult way being spoken of was in actuality a reference to the sanctification process that naturally occurs as we walk side by side with Jesus.  Sort of a sidewalk and wine-press all rolled into one.

So, the question is…

Is sanctification difficult?

I submit to you that transformation is only arduous to those who are not submitted to it.

If you are one who struggles to maintain fleshly pursuits or wrestles with the idea of being changed, than you likely find your walk with Jesus to be a difficult journey. But if on the other hand, you are submitted to the changes that He wants to make in you, you probably find the walk to be a light burden that is challenging, invigorating, and rewarding.

Having said that, we all struggle in our walks from time to time.

That’s good.

It’s a good thing if we recognize that the difficulty we are experiencing is directly related to our sinful desire to hold onto something that is not pleasing to the Lord. Do you recall the story of the rich, young man? Recognition in this regard can be the catalyst that compels us to ask of God, “Why am I struggling so?”

If we are sincerely seeking the truth, God will answer and identify those things we need to put down and walk away from.

He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6b

~ ~ ~

God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Corinthians 10:13b

We Have the Power

The mystery of our relationship is that Christ Jesus is alive and resides within our very being. All knowledge, wisdom, and power are in Him and He is in us, therefore, we have access to the very things we need to make easy the yoke and light the burden.

Do you know what you have?

The story is told of the gazillionaire, William Randolph Hearst who once saw a photograph of a classic art-piece that he had to have for his extensive art collection. He dispatched his staff to obtain the painting at any cost. They returned with the news that the work of art was not available. The reason being: Mr. Hearst already owned it and had it stored in his warehouse.

Incredible Simplicity

God made it so easy. There is one way: Christ alone. Christ in us, the hope of glory.

That’s it folks. We don’t have to look elsewhere, Christ is ready, willing, and able!

If it’s your testimony that the yoke of Jesus is not easy and His burden is not light, then clearly you are not doing it right. You are in fact wrestling with an Opponent that you cannot beat. At this juncture it would be prudent to open your eyes and gaze upon the face of your Lord and Savior to see He is not your adversary, but your Advocate before the Father.

But…

Didn’t Jesus say that in this world we would have tribulation? Can’t we assume that tribulation and difficulty are synonymous?

You can if you want to, but it’s wiser to equate tribulation to the light burdens Jesus spoke of. In so doing we discover that in Christ they are temporary and bearable. It is the only manner by which a dying Stephen could proclaim,

“Lord Jesus, receive my spirit… do not charge them with this sin.” When he had said this, he fell asleep. Acts 7:59-60

Stephen was called to martyrdom and therefore found it to be a light burden to bear. Had he struggled, no doubt it would have been an extremely difficult process to endure.

Tribulation: The Upside

“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

~ ~ ~

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. Romans 5:1-5

~ ~ ~

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39

~ ~ ~

Great is my boldness of speech toward you, great is my boasting on your behalf. I am filled with comfort. I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. 2 Corinthians 7:4

Still Struggling?

Somewhere, some good Christian is saying, “You just don’t understand what I’m going through and regardless of what you say, it’s difficult.”

You’re right, I probably don’t fully comprehend your situation, but I do grasp His solution.

Difficulty is heaviness and heaviness is a unique sensation unto itself. The moment it is experienced we instinctively know that we must either put the weight down or seek help to carry it. To deny this awareness is to affirm that you oppose sanctification (you are not submitted to God).  It is at this point where many walk away from Jesus.

Don’t walk away.

We have  promise:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7

Sadly there are few who find the straight and narrow way, because they fail to accept and believe that Jesus Christ is the only way, the only truth, and the only life worth living.  Faith on the other hand is the glue that keeps us on the path.

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