“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.” (Matt. 7:13 & 14 ESV)
It’s so easy to strive after personal comfort and security. Our culture bombards us with messages, ideas, and products that promise to make our lives easier and more convenient. The obsession with getting rich feeds off the lie that more money and more stuff will make you happy—that having many nice things and being comfortable is directly correlated with living a good life. However, it is not difficult to see the evidence of the deception we have been fed. Broken marriages and families, addictions, affairs, and insecurity afflict many of the people who have the most stuff. If the “gate is wide and the way is easy,” that is, if most people are living a certain way and it seems easy, then that should be our first sign that they are headed for destruction. Often times, going with the flow of our culture also means compromising truth and character, getting washed over the waterfall with the rest of the unsuspecting swimmers. To swim upstream, against the current, is obviously the more difficult option, but also the only way to survive and find true life. I believe our modern American church is plagued with Christians who have bought our culture’s lies about the easy life and have simply mixed in some Jesus to make themselves feel better. They see Jesus as a means to an end—a way to make their lives easier by giving them a sense of spiritual security (think fire insurance) and occasional reassurance when they are faced with the realities of suffering and death. They seek what they consider blessings over and against spiritual growth and the well-being of others. They expect a supernatural ROI (return-on-investment) from their “modest” giving. When things in their life get difficult or undesirable, they not only expect, but demand that God simply fix their problems and make their life easy again.
Are you one of these people? I used to be one. In some ways I still am. It is so easy for me to get caught up in my culture’s expectations of success, wealth, and personal and family comfort. I don’t want to be uncomfortable; who does? I don’t want to be poor, or hungry, or inconvenienced. That’s normal, I know. But when I read the Bible and look at Jesus’ life and teachings, I don’t see normal. I don’t see someone who is calling people to take up their beach umbrellas and sunscreen and just relax; He calls His people to take up a cross, which is definitely not relaxing. It is a calling to be servants to others, to be humble, to love and forgive and do what God says is right even when it hurts or doesn’t make sense. Jesus calls us to lay down our pride and self-focus and take up a desire to elevate His will above our own; to work to build up His kingdom and His people over and sometimes against our own.
What are some practical ways you can elevate God’s will and desires above your own? How have you seen others do this?
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