Have you ever thought about the difference between safe and good? How sometimes the good thing feels unsafe, but is better than the safe thing which feels good…especially in the long run?
Did that screw with your brain? Sorry; not sorry.
It’s the way I believe life should be lived. Not the “Good Life” that we’re fed in cola commercials, but the good life, the not-safe-life.
“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 small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7: 13-14 (NIV)
The Narrow Way is the life that Jesus lived. If you look carefully, there was nothing “safe” about the way He lived His life while He was walking around in a body on earth.
‘They’ tried to throw Him off a cliff,
He hung out with the out-crowd,
He hung out with the in-crowd,
He broke boundaries to reach people,
He pushed peoples spiritual and religious perceptions,
He pushed His families’ tolerance levels,
He spent the majority of His time with (among others) thieves, assassins and prostitutes,
He stayed up until all hours praying and fasting (He called this ‘watching’),
He turned the status ladder of the time upside down- children and women were incredibly important,
He did what He knew God was asking Him to, even when He knew it was going to get Him killed.
Those verses in Matthew 7 are two out of the “Sermon on the Mount” that we split up into 3 chapters in Matthew (Matthew chapters 5-7) where Jesus breaks down all the things God values, and condenses them into a sermon. All the most important character traits, ethics, lifestyle, values, morality, they are all there in one speech.
Now, we have the lifetimes work of living them the same way Jesus lived them.
Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. John 5:19 (NIV)
As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. John 17:18 (NIV)
Not the most fun prospect hey! Yes, choosing to follow this Jesus is a choice into the love affair of our lifetime, complete with unaccountable peace and all kinds of other amazing things. However, it’s also a life which requires us to take our hats off, roll up our sleeves and muck in at the deep end.
It’s the deep end of ourselves as well as the deep end of the world.
If we take the example of Mother Theresa, not one of us could say she wasn’t committed to Our Lord. She was a woman who while here walked the Narrow Way. All of who she was, was given to Jesus. Everything she did, was for Jesus. Her lifestyle was Jesus, her example was Jesus, her voice- her words, were Jesus.
She lived a lifestyle of dedication to all of who God is, to all of who He wants us to be.
She didn’t live a safe life. She lived among disease, extreme poverty, and when she ventured out into the first world, she spoke God’s mind in a way which would have gotten most people publicly (figuratively at least) slaughtered.
It’s not necessary for all of us to join a monastic order to follow the Narrow Way. Monastic Orders are a new thing in comparison to the lifestyle God is asking us to follow. It’s laid out in Isaiah 58, where He tells us what a lifestyle of true fasting- true dedication to God looks like to Him.
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter- when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood? Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I. “If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday. The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honourable, and if you honour it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.” For the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 58:6-14 (NIV)
This is where the ‘rubber hits the road’ so to speak. Our initial decision to follow Jesus comes with all the incredible benefits which are outlined in this passage and in other places in the Bible. Just because this particular passage is in the OT doesn’t mean following through with our responsibilities is finished.
Remember how Jesus said He didn’t come to get rid of the law but to fulfil it?? This means we don’t need to work (through the sacrificial system) to get into the Kingdom anymore, but if we don’t want to be separated out with the Goats, then we sure as eggs better be walking the same narrow path He did when He comes back. (Parable of the servants)
This is a hard word.
We don’t all have to go to India to walk the Narrow Way. Each of us who have chosen this path has a unique call, because each of us is a unique person. We are all called and made to represent something unique about the character, the Person of God.
If each of us had a call which looked like Mother Theresas’, then Calcutta would be in great shape, but the rest of the world would not.
People need to be called to the music industry, to the business world, to transport, communications, technology, science, family etc, just as much as we need to be called to the obvious poor. The important part is that we recognise it is all the same call to The Narrow Way.
It is the same call to right injustice, to break the yoke, to free the captive, to share our shelter, to feed the poor. These things can be done no matter where we are called. The obvious poor are very, very important, it is the inconspicuous poor, the inconspicuous broken who we also must remember.
The Narrow Way is a daily path of choice, decision, deliberate action. It is not safe. It is not always easy. But it is always good.
This is the life we are called to.
Welcome to the Narrow Way.
God Bless You Very Much