Striving For The Narrow Door

“Strive to enter through the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.  Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open up to us!’ then He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know where you are from.’  Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets’;  and He will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you are from; DEPART FROM ME, ALL YOU EVILDOERS.’  In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrown out.”  (Luke 13:24-28 NASB)

We quote that it is by grace we are saved, not works.  And this is true, and extremely important.  Yet the Apostle Paul was very clear about how hard he worked for his salvation (see Philippians 3).  He knew he was saved, that he couldn’t trade his salvation even for his own people, and he knew that he was loved and excepted by Jesus.  But he worked in the Kingdom of God as if he wasn’t.  He worked, as it were, for his salvation.

Jesus says here to “strive to enter”; to work hard, get sweaty.  He’s talking about the Kingdom of God, and He says many will seek to enter, in the future, not necessarily now.  But then, in the future it will be too late.  The door will be shut, and the master of the house (I’m thinking God) will not recognize their origin, where they are from.  The thing they think gets them in, their origin, will not be recognized.  There will be those who thought that because Jesus taught in their streets, and because they ate with Him, they should be obvious shoe-in’s for the Kingdom, yet are shut out.

The key here, which is different than the key in the parallel in Matthew 7, is that the narrow door is found through striving.  But the what keeps those outside on the outside is that they did not really know Jesus.  He taught in their streets, they ate with Him, but didn’t know Him.  They figured it was enough that they hang out with Him from time to time, but it wasn’t.  He refused to recognize where they were from, and even calls them those who work unrighteousness (perform deeds contrary to righteousness or outside a relationship with God).  This should shake us up.  It scare the willies out me.

The Kingdom of God is found through striving to enter the narrow door.  It may not be popular right now, but it will be; after it’s too late.  Having heard the gospel isn’t enough.  Having shared a meal with Jesus isn’t enough.  The question plaguing me is how hard am I striving for that narrow door?  Does my life look like Paul’s?  Do I push on for the upward call of Christ?  Or am I mired in the things of this world?  Do I get so distracted by work, family, and even “church” that my relationship with my Master becomes another set of tasks?  I ate with Him, check that off.  I heard a sermon, check that off.  I did whatever, check that off.  What have I done to get into His presence?  And having been in His presence, what distracted me, and how hard am I trying to get back there?

Yes, my relationship with my family is important.  My relationship with my wife is primary among all my other human relationships  I have on earth.  And I do need to characterize Jesus as I relate to others.  But don’t I also in doing so have to do as He did in those relationships?  Jesus wasn’t “nice” to everyone.  He wasn’t, and it doesn’t take much study to see that.  Jesus didn’t try to please everyone, didn’t accommodate His preaching to everyone, didn’t tell some to repent but not others lest He offend them.  He said, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”  In other words, “Change your mind to agree with God’s mind because His authority over all things is coming.”  The truth is that a day is coming when the narrow door will be shut.  Those inside the door will be the ones who strove to please their Maker.  Don’t my neighbors need to know that?

I see a scary passage here.  What do you see?


Revealing and Knowing, As Infants

At that very time He rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.  All things have been handed over to Me by My Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” (Luke 10:21-22 NASB)

As my wife can attest, I have long struggled with pride.  In general, I love what I think, and hold it in high esteem.  I know I’m not alone in this, but I also know my Master has worked long and hard to lift me out of this visionless attitude.  Over that last 20 years, I have learned so much from others, that the realization has dawned on me that my ideas are never entirely my own, and rarely complete.  It’s true, I synthesize the ideas of others, and the new thesis I end up with requires the theses of others to morph into yet another, better idea.

I’m learning that I’m dependent.  That’s very different from learning to become dependent.  I’m learning that this isn’t a choice where my Master is concerned.  I am dependent upon the insight and wisdom of others to learn about my Master.  Any time I try to avoid dependence, I succeed in failing to learn about my Master.  So, this blog is somewhat of a learning vehicle for me.  It succeeds to the extent others contribute.  So, the invitation is always open.

Fortunately for all involved, my Master sees fit to hide Himself to a degree from the “wise and intelligent” and reveals Himself to the infants.  I think the more complex, the further afield from the truth we get.  On the other hand, sometimes the complexities of the Creator of the universe are revealed, but again, often to “simple-folk”.

So in this passage, Jesus is overcome with joy in the Spirit to see the Father’s reversal.  He sees these simple men, devoted to Him without really “getting it”, misunderstanding who He is, and ignorant of what they are all walking into in Jerusalem.  He sees them rejoicing that they have experienced such power of God to do the miraculous.  They rejoiced to see the Kingdom of God coming through them.  And yet not one understood it.  In a sense Jesus is saying, “Oh, if you only knew.”

And then Jesus declares something we expect to read (and do read) after the resurrection, at His ascension.  Jesus declares His authority from the Father.  He declares this authority to be complete, but specifically in knowledge of the relationship between the Father and the Son.  I can’t help but trip up as I read.  I run through this and have to go back and read again.  Only the Father knows the Son.  Only the Father knows the Son.  And only the Son knows the Father, and those who whom the Son reveals Him.  In other words, the knowledge of the Son isn’t shared like the knowledge of the Father.

Immediately, someone will probably think that this is completely off because the Son is right there, so of course they know the Son.  But remember, they’re infants.  Jesus’ point is that they don’t get it.  We see that they really don’t understand who Jesus is, so no, they don’t know the Son.  Only the Father really knows the Son.  Jesus walks with these men in the knowledge that they do not know Him, even as He reveals the Father to them, they still don’t know the One revealing the Father.  It’s lonely in a sense.  It’s frustrating in another sense, yet here we see Jesus’ joy in it.  He doesn’t have the expectation that they know Him.  He holds no illusions about His followers, and isn’t disappointed with them.

So, I don’t have to know it all.  I must be faithful to seek my Master all my time here He gives me on this plane of existence.  But I will not truly know Him until I finally see Him face to face.  It’s okay, that’s not a failure on my part, it’s how He designed it to work.  It’s not a test, it’s how my Master creates community.  And I am learning that I must have community.  Only within community can I begin to explore the deep things of my Master.  For I am simple folk, and I cannot understand on my own what my Master has to teach.

So basically, when you read but don’t comment, you wound me!  Not really.  This isn’t the only avenue I have to explore my Master within community.  But to the degree that there is participation here, I grow and learn so much more than whatever drivel I pour into these entries.

Okay, rant over.  What’s your view through the knothole?