What I Do Know
There are a lot of things that I don’t know but one thing is for sure- I can be WRONG. Like the time I was POSITIVE I had labeled the top of a box where my grandmother’s antique bowl and pitcher were kept so that I could quickly find it. When I went to the storage area to retrieve that particular box, I could not find it anywhere! I was getting so annoyed at the thought of having to open all those boxes to find which one had the bowl/pitcher inside. Although I could distinctly remember labeling the top of that box, the fact is I actually hadn’t!
That moment 23 years ago conveyed the shocking reality that I could not trust myself as much as I thought I could. Where I had been convinced that I was right about something, I was completely wrong. Not only was the knowledge wrong in my mind, so was my memory of the particular event.
If I cannot fully depend on my own reasoning/knowledge, then why would I want to risk being wrong about more important matters? Eternal matters?
What Jesus Teaches
Reading in Luke 13:22-30 NIV, I notice verses 22-24 particularly.
22 Then Jesus went through the towns and villages, teaching as he made his way to Jerusalem. 23 Someone asked him, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?”
He said to them, 24 “Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.
Jesus came as many things- Messiah, Redeemer, Savior, Shepherd and so on. One role of equal importance was “Teacher”. This implies that He knew more than others, therefore, His instruction was worthy of attention and acceptance. To further validate His authority as a teacher, Jesus performed miracles for the people to witness firsthand.
Yet even with this proof of validity, a problem arose as “man” set himself superior to this role of Jesus. When anyone rejects what Jesus teaches and establishes their opinion contrary to His then naturally, there will be consequences.
He is speaking to this reality in this very passage. The hard truth of the matter is that every “belief” is not equally valid. If I believe something different from what Jesus taught, it does not invalidate His Word. Jesus taught Truth, not perspective. Truth is not compromised because someone doesn’t believe it nor is it validated if they do agree with it.
Just because I believe something doesn’t make it “true”. I can believe with all my heart that Miami is north of Jacksonville. But if I set out on a car trip driving north, passionate about being right that Miami is north of me, that does not make it any more likely that I will arrive in Miami. So my belief in something does not make it true nor make it false. Truth is what it is no matter if anyone believes it or not.God's Truth is absolute no matter if people believe it or not. It is not validated by our belief nor invalidated by our unbelief. Click To Tweet
Consequently, even though Jesus taught with authority, some accepted what He said and some didn’t. This still happens today. Thus, the first “offense” often taken with Jesus and what He declared as Truth.
The Restrictive Narrow Door
I am no Biblical scholar nor do I need to be. God gave His Word so that a seminary professor or a great-grandmother in rural Kentucky could both read it and understand it through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
In my understanding as someone who has studied the Bible for 26 years, the bottom line is this- since God is responsible for all things created then He should be accepted as the Ruler. What He says goes.
We get into trouble by picking and choosing what we want to accept from God’s Word. What is easy or agreeable with the way we want to live, we keep. What seems too restrictive or bossy, we want to toss.
God does not operate His Kingdom in this manner. His Word is to be accepted and respected in its entirety. Going back to my original premise over my own propensity of being wrong, who am I to disagree with God or determine things to be any other way?
When I was younger I certainly had my rebellious notions that were contrary to His thinking but I have grown to understand my own foolishness. Now, I am relieved that I am not in charge! I rejoice that God is Sovereignly in control of all things, including me.It is with relief that I acknowledge that God is Sovereignly in control of all things, including me! Click To Tweet
If what God declares as right or wrong is to be the “narrow” aspect through which we enter His Kingdom, leading us to Jesus Christ as the Way, Truth, and Life, then so be it. If we want what He offers through redemption then we must abide by His conditions.
I know this is simplistic but it’s like being invited to a party and wanting to take charge of the party once we arrive. We are not in charge. He is! We can either accept the invitation or decline. What we cannot do is logically think we can change the party to suit our preference.
Verse 24 says to make every effort to enter through the narrow door. This is offensive to some because they don’t like the fact that there is a “door” at all, much less a narrow one. They want the right to determine what is right or wrong or how they should live their lives. They desire the label of “Christian” with all the benefits but without the restrictive nature of some of God’s commands. Only God knows how this will affect them as they enter eternity.
I’m not sure where the line is but from this passage of Scripture I am convinced of one thing- Jesus said THERE IS A LINE! I’m not willing to risk getting as close to it as I can in order to hold to my version of “truth” above God’s. My eternal future in heaven is more important than some sin I need to cast aside down here as I live out my days on earth.
Make Every Effort
If Jesus says to “make every effort to enter through the narrow door”, how can we do that? Two ways come to my mind.
It is my choice to believe what Christ says as true. At times, I may not like what He says or I may fail to live up to it but I can still decide to accept it as being true and right.
Secondly, I can trust it enough to base my life upon it. It is one thing to believe something but it is another to depend upon it. The way I process this is either I am right to trust His Word or I am wrong. What is the risk if I am wrong to trust what God says in His Word as true? What is the risk if I do not trust Him and He is in fact right in what He has said? How often am I wrong anyway and why would I want to base my eternal future on that?
I would rather trust God to be right than me any day.I have been wrong enough times in my life to teach me that God is worth my trust more than I am. Click To Tweet
So far, He has never led me astray. Although His “door” can seem narrow and offensive to some, I have found it has only good in store for ANY and ALL who are willing to accept it. None are turned away that call upon Jesus’ name and He expects love from us toward everyone else we encounter.
The Blessed By-Product of the Narrow Door
When I consider Jesus saying that many will try to be saved and enter through the door but will not be able to, I readily understand He is talking about our eternal future. But I also believe the narrow door has implications for the here and now.
Those who believed and trusted Jesus experienced the greatest fellowship with Him. Those who rejected Him did not get to enjoy Him like those who accepted His Word as true. Intimacy with Christ has to be the greatest privilege of our time on earth so why would I want to forfeit that?
The religious leaders of His day were not who most of us would want for close friends anyway. I don’t know about you but who wants a selfish person as their closest friend compared to a selfless friend?
If I had to choose my “rights” over my fellowship with a loving Savior, I would miserable. You can have your right to be right. I’ll take my right to be wrong and experience the thrill of intimacy that repentance brings!
That is where joy and delight are found- at the foot of the cross confessing I am a black-hearted, wretched sinner. God is right and I am wrong. Praise God that though the door be narrow, it is still open wide!!!
Yes, that narrow door doesn’t offend me, it thrills me!