It was war and a threat to my life, eternal separation from God. It is no easy task to admit. But it is the truth. A destructive sin eating away at my chance of entering through the narrow door. I allowed the wolf to enter without a fight. I was asleep to something greater than defeat. Greater than pain. Greater than all the things easily grabbing my attention. Hurtful reactions from the people I loved most. People attacking my character and accusing me, all of which were lies.
The greatest threat to entering through the narrow door to salvation for me was success. My childhood was easy. My parents loved me and were encouraging. I excelled at athletics and was voted homecoming king and student body president. It was not difficult moments threatening my trust in Jesus. Rejection for standing up against the mob. A speech impediment or catastrophic near-death experiences and injuries. It was unequivocally successful moments distracting me from my savior. Urging me to trust in myself instead of Jesus.
These words are not meant to be prideful. When life comes at us hard, it is easy to focus on Jesus. It is the calm, loving, and successful moments blinding me of my overwhelming need for Jesus. Encouraging me to turn myself, circumstances, and others into idols. Things more important to me than Jesus.
And someone said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”— Luke 13:23-24
The Greek word used for "strive" has an interesting English equivalent, agonize. We are at war to enter into the Kingdom of God. The war against bitterness, the war against pride, the war against untrust, nonbelief, addiction, rage, laziness, quitting, lying, stealing, and selfishness.
If we do not take this war seriously, we risk eternity:
“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 you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God” (Luke 13:28-29).
Our war is about agonizing, fighting, hanging on by a thread in order to enter through the door. The Kingdom of God! It is not a war against people. The ones who hurt us the deepest. We are called to love them, especially our enemies. Our spouse, kids, family, and friends who do not love us as we deserve. It is our own sin hurting us, even killing us! Jesus' call is to be on guard, be on the lookout for anything setting us up to sin. John Piper writes,
Soul-destroying temptations to unbelief and sin are present in everyday, normal life. Striving to enter through the narrow door is a lifelong, all-day, every-day calling.
It is easier to keep focused when things around us are chaotic. It is blatantly easy. The danger comes from normal, everyday life. These are the times we need to stay awake. Where do our thoughts wander in the calm silence of normal life? Are we still focused on Jesus?
A narrow door. Jesus focuses on the pleasures of life because those are the times we become too relaxed. Our marriage becomes an idol. Our jobs become an idol. Our kids become an idol.
Do not make the mistake of thinking this life Jesus called us to, his expectations of kind reactions, is an easy one. It is not. Do not be blind when things are going well.
The pathway to freedom is through the narrow door.
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