Tuesday, April 2, 2013

The Narrow Door

Today is the second day of week 13, reading the Bible through in a year together.  Our scriptures today are:  Deuteronomy 32-34; Luke 13; Psalm 13.

Today, in the Luke passage, we encounter something that I wish Jesus had said differently.  Verses 22-23a say:

22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching and journeying toward Jerusalem. 23 And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” 

Now, what a comfortable thought it would have been, if Jesus had said, "No, in fact you'd be hard pressed to find anyone in hell.  In fact, most of humanity will be saved.  All you have to do is be a good person.  Be devout in honoring God--no matter what your understanding of God might be.  Just as long as your good outweighs your bad, then I'm sure you'll make it."

Yes.  That would have been comforting.  But that's not what He said.  God knows that it takes more than that for a person to be saved.  So Jesus answered:

The Narrow Door
24 “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. 25 When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ 26 Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ 27 But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ 28 In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. 29 And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. 30 And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

Enter through the narrow door.  The kind that not everybody makes it through, because they'd rather try to get in by an easier way.  Jesus is the only way.  Your religion can't save you.  It doesn't matter if you reclined at the Lord's table, if you don't really know Him.  What matters is whether or not you know Him personally.

For my part, I would have loved it if Jesus had even said that EVERYBODY will be saved.  I'd also like it if God had taken out the part about weeping and gnashing of teeth.  That doesn't sit very well with me.  If I'd written the Bible, I'd have done it differently.  But I'm not God, and I didn't write His Word.  There are some who would like to make the Bible say what it really doesn't say.   Like the serpent in the garden they ask, "Did God really say...?"

Yes.  He really did say.  Widening the door is a dangerous prospect, because when you try to alter what God said, you're saying that His Word didn't quite get it right.  You're saying that God didn't really mean what He said--that He's a liar.  And God doesn't lie.

So...when you read the Bible and you come across something you don't like this...you have two choices.  The first choice is to say, "I don't like that very much, so I think I'll try to widen the door.  I'll try to explain why the Bible didn't really mean that.  Or, your second choice is to say, "Even though I don't like it, I'll accept it, because I've decided to submit myself to God."  Be careful how you answer, because the God of the Bible is the keeper of the narrow door.

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