Thursday, June 30, 2022

Narrow and Wide Gates (Matthew 7:13-23)

“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” (Matthew 7:13-14, English Standard Version). 

Jesus Christ himself is the narrow gate. He himself leads us personally on the difficult path of freedom which is based on truth, expressed through love, and leads to eternal life.

In contrast, the six false Olympian gods of politics, war, technology, sex, money, and consumption are themselves the wide gate. They bully, bribe, and deceive us into following them down the absurdly popular highway of slavery that is based on falsehood, expressed through indifference, and ends in despair, destruction, and death. 

So we have Christ vs. Olympians, the one true God/man vs. six false gods. Their goals: life vs. death, the first attained through an ironically difficult way of living; the second, through a deceptively easy way. 

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits…A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 7:15-16a, 18-19, ESV). 

Today’s false prophets? Christian preachers who speak of Jesus Christ but pursue an Olympian way of living. As Jesus says, we may identify them by their Olympian fruit. Jupiter, false god of politics, for example, has them promoting partisan political viewpoints as Gospel. Fruit? Accusation, division, factions, rage, ridicule, and hatred, for starters. Bad fruit. Or Pluto has them acting in ways which make them rich. He has them speaking of Jesus as if he were chief executive of Universe, Inc., rewarding them for their virtue and punishing their poor listeners for being irresponsible.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23, ESV).

To call oneself a Christian, then, does not necessarily mean one’s way of living witnesses to Christ. We might be living as far clearer witnesses to those six false gods who can only dream of being mistaken for our saviors. So Jesus invites us today, and each day, to walk with him down that difficult path away from conventional virtues like political partisanship and dedication to money. When we, solely by the power of the Holy Spirit, respond with gratitude to his invitation, he enables us, even now, to participate with him in eternal life.

Copyright © 2022 by Steven Farsaci.
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