Our group began this year/week considering the implications of Matthew 7:13-14. “Enter in through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction; and many are they who enter through this way. But the gate is narrow and the path is hard, that leads to life; and there are very few who choose to enter through this way.” – Jesus of Nazareth
People in all walks of life had various responses to the chaos thrust upon them in this past week. News stories which provoked reactions ranging from terror and shock to nihilistic apathy; apparently un-phased by the mounting stressful news reports; seemed to assault our core sensibilities. News updates which were presented with images of chaos and destruction for us to fill-up on, were broadcast with wanton disregard for our current involvements.
From a murdering rampage in an Istanbul nite-club; a senseless airport slaughter in Ft. Lauderdale; a kidnapping and torture of a disabled young man in Chicago; we too were greeted like everyone else, as we drank our coffee or ate our mid-day lunch.
But unlike most people though, we were prepared . Why? What made our response to these horrific displays of evil significantly different? Some may have thought we were detached or un-sympathetic. They were incorrect. What could have been misunderstood was really a demeanor of peace, balance and confident hope. This hope and peace did not just simply happen. It was an authentic witness of our ability to respond. Our response is a direct result of how we prepared our hearts and minds – before the chaos and destruction came upon us.
By heeding the instructions of Jesus given in Matthew 7:13-14, we have chosen to engage life by entering into it through the narrow gate and remain upon the hard path; no matter how strenuous and challenging it becomes. We are not shocked nor surprised at the destructive and evil actions which touch us along with our fellow citizens.
But we are aware and do wholeheartedly embrace a different truth and a more robust reality than those whom have chosen the wide gate, leading to the easy path.
There is a universal truth and eternal reality that every Christian must recapture for their own survival and effective witness: a life of disciplined, contemplative prayer.
“Tragically, unrealistic expectations in regard to the Christian life have kept many modern Christians from accepting the cost of this maturation process. They are like the seeds that fall on stony places. They receive the word with joy — for a time — but when tribulation or persecution comes, they quickly fall away (Matthew 13:20-21). But the soul that perseveres through the dark night comes to the dawn of a new day. A deeper, more mature love emerges. It enjoys a kind of intimacy in prayer that is comparable to the golden years of a marriage.” – Simon Chan
The mature Christian lives with less and less reliance on signs and feelings.
Those I serve have opted for the disciplined way. The way of faithful obedience to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. They are not enticed by the temporary emotional high that fads quickly. Therefore, we are not shocked nor deterred from our goal – to enter into the peace of God daily through prayer and intimacy.
Our choices have resulted in our ability to endure in the days of evil which are upon us. We all must make a decision as to how we enter the journey life presents us with. Jesus Christ gave us clear and straightforward instructions – in a simplistic, yet quite descriptive way. A way that includes obedience, silence, stillness and faith. If we trust, practice, and obey these words of Hope we will surely receive the reward that is promised – abundant as well as eternal life.
Will you choose to continue upon the easy path? A path that is the comfortable way. A path which gives you a false security of an eternal rest that has never experienced the present rest which comes through Christ.
Or, will you make a conscious choice to sacrifice portions of your pride, your personal agenda, your sense of independence and self-reliance to obtain the benefits that only entering through the narrow gate invites you and I into daily?
The choice is yours and trust me when I say; it won’t take much to reveal your decision.