I want to tell you upfront that I believe in the life of abundance that we have in Jesus Christ. I believe in victory in Jesus over every situation we find ourselves in. I believe that God is working for our good, to build us up, to encourage us and to fill us with joy in every moment of every day. I do not believe in defeat when we are walking in obedience but I also believe it is not an easy journey. God never meant it to be easy. Easy gets you nowhere. Easy is for wimps and my Father is not raising wimps.
Christianity was never intended to be popular or even a trend. It was not put in place to be cool, hip or anything else that looks attractive. To follow Jesus Christ is not a thing a person does on a whim, or because a friend does it and it looks like they have a really fun time with it. Jesus put it out there as being a really hard thing to do:
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)
Why would so many people choose destruction (and that would be hell, for all those "Christians" who are dismissing the idea of hell ) over life? Because it is easy and we are a people who are short sighted. We live for the present pleasure, completely ignoring the future consequences. Sin is popular, it's natural, everyone is doing it. Hey, we don't even refer to it as sin any more. We have this mentality of safety in numbers. We actually convince ourselves that the truth is a lie. If enough people say that there is no hell it must mean there isn't. If enough people say that a loving God would never allow people to fall into such destruction then that must be true. They totally miss the point that our Father created the narrow way so that we could turn away from destruction, but he has to leave the choice up to us.
The fact is that a loving Father cares about the development of his children, not just their perceived "need in the moment". Our Father has eternal thinking and asks us to trust him, whereas we are short-sighted and are afraid of the battles. Scripture tells us again and again that God has promised to always be with us, to direct, strengthen and encourage us. He is there in the dark as well as in the light. He holds our hand, sings over us, promises us peace as well as sleep. But scripture also tells us that he told us to dress for battle even though the battle belongs to him. He has told us to take up our positions, to stand our ground and observe while he gives us victory. But there has to be a battle in order for there to be victory.
Few people choose the narrow way because of what it contains. The broad path looks so easy and we have lots of company on it, but the narrow way requires faith, trust, hope, determination, courage, steadfastness to the promises of God. The narrow way contains trials that lead to victory. It also contains great camaraderie, rousing songs of triumph, friendships forged in the fires of battle. It does contain weeping, breaking, surrender of will but we know that the joy comes in the morning with sweet victory upon our lips.
The broad way is for people who are afraid to live, who declare that life is too boring or too hard to even try. It is for those who just want to be carried along by the crowd and sad to say, the scriptures tell us that some of this crowd mistakenly thinks it is the Church. The narrow way is a way of love, but a love that most people struggle to accept. Not a human love but a love more ancient than time itself. Apostle Paul gave us a brief glimpse of this love but I want to concentrate just on the latter description. The part that reads:
Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. (1 Corinthians 13:6-7)
The reason the path is narrow is because those upon it cannot delight in evil, but stand in the truth of God's Word. In fact, they rejoice in that truth no matter how unpopular it is. The reason for this is because this love will absorb whatever cost there is in speaking the truth to those who are on the path to destruction. This love is not accepting everyone for who they are but instead fighting for who God has created them to be. Love always protects no matter the cost. It always trusts the way of our Lord. It always hopes, holding to the promises of Jesus, that whoever wants to be saved will be saved. And this love pushes through no matter the barriers.
It is not wrong to warn someone of the destruction they are heading toward; it is an act of love. The narrow way involves tough choices, tough times, tough battles but it is also a victorious life, a developing life, a maturing life. It is a life of love but that love is going to cost us. It is a sacrificial love. It will cost you to love those who reject God's love but it is amazing what Jesus does when we persevere in these battles. Do not moan and complain because of the trials. Rejoice and be glad, sing and shout, turn your crying to laughter because it is all part of the narrow way and our Father is doing a complete work in you through them. We are not a people who fall back from the battle. We are not a people of little courage. We are a people of an ancient love, who know our duty to stand, who allow the voice of victory to drown out any voice of despair. We are a rejoicing people, always!
Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:4-7)
Do you understand? Sorrow may last for a night but joy comes in the morning. I don't know about you but I have always been a morning person. Others may choose to live in the darkness but I have chosen the light and I will rejoice because I know who I serve and I know what he has called me to. I am not called to the broad path but instead the narrow. I am not called to the easy life but instead the victorious. I am not bound for destruction but instead life eternal. What are these trials compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ? As Paul wrote:
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4:16-17)
Do I hear an Amen?