The Following thought for the day was written by Brother Richard Morgan and provides insight and encouragement for those seeking to serve the God of Israel.
The words of our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount dig very deeply into our souls. In Matthew 7 are perhaps some of the most difficult for us to obey, even though the concepts themselves are straightforward to understand. Let’s look at the example of choosing the narrow gate. Jesus tells us, “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (v13-14).
The fact that few find it tells me that just being a Christadelphian or sincere or generally religious doesn’t give me a ticket into the Kingdom of God. Knowing the truth on an academic level is only the beginning. The tricky part comes when we’re confronted by that truth and presented with the choice between the two gates. The path leading through one gate is easy. It’s the sort of path where you attend classes, do your readings, say prayers before meals, have good morals, don’t get involved in politics, maybe do a bit of preaching, and have a friendly social group in the ecclesia. And that’s it; it’s easy.
Anyone can lead that kind of life. It’s not difficult, even though at times doing the readings and going to Bible class can be a bit inconvenient. You can live that kind of life and still have many of the temporal things this world has to offer. It can bring happiness and fulfillment and a sense of doing the right thing. But if we haven’t gone through the narrow gate, it leads to destruction.
I wonder what it truly means to enter the narrow gate. The previous paragraph describes me pretty well. Sometimes I find myself patting myself on the back for being a religious person. But am I really on the narrow path? Comparing myself to the faithful of the Bible, I wonder.
Take that word “hard” in verse 14, for instance, which has the idea of “affliction.” It’s a word most often used by Paul, six times describing the difficulties that faced him and the brothers and sisters of the first-century ecclesia. For instance, “For even when we came into Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but we were afflicted at every turn—fighting without, and fear within.” (2 Cor. 5:5). Have I ever been afflicted at every turn? Does my body ever have no rest? Is enduring quarantine during COVID-19 being afflicted?
Hebrews 11 uses the same word – “They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated” (v37). I can’t apply any of those words to me. Sometimes it feels like I’m not only on the broad path that leads to destruction, but I’m sitting in a comfy armchair on the side of the road and not doing much of anything.
I don’t have the answer to what it means to enter the narrow gate and walk the pathway of affliction. Affliction isn’t something I want to endure, but there is eternal life at the end of the pathway, and I certainly want that. But do I want it more than anything? Or am I just content with fooling myself that I’m on the narrow path when the truth is I entered the wrong gate?
Simi Hills, CA
View all the thoughts in this series here…