What if you lived your entire life believing a lie? Your faith and trust misplaced. What if others were concerned, but kept silent fearing you’d find offense?
How would you know?
Personalize the passage of scripture below. Let the words penetrate your heart, transcend your traditions, and stir your spirit. You may find the words of Jesus unsettling.
I hope you do too.
At least for a moment.
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matt 7:21-23)
“Many will say to me…”
They prophesied in His name, drove out demons in His name, and performed miracles in His name. Yet He never knew them.
Many will live the “Christian life” in deception, believing their works establish relationship with Jesus. Then one day, a day of unimaginable sorrow, will find it wasn’t true. A moment terrifying beyond words.
The “many” will include Pastors, Evangelists, Elders, Deacons, and Worship Leaders. It will include those who fill the pews Sunday morning, and those who “don’t need church” to be a Christian. Singing about, talking about, praying to, but not in relationship with… Jesus.
How is that possible?
Years ago, long before GPS navigation, I needed to drive a meeting. With my hand-written bullet list of street by street turns, I headed out. My last turn took me down a road running parallel to a large river. Upon reaching my destination I discovered a slight problem.
I was on the wrong side of the river.
Unbeknownst to me, two roads ran parallel to that river and I turned too soon.
Being on the right road matters.
Jesus said, “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.” (Matt 7:13 NIV)
THE BROAD ROAD
The wide gate has billboards promising the “world,” but it’s a road designed to keep one from coming to the knowledge of truth, littered with lies and deceit. A pathway to pain and destruction.
Churches along this road offer “Gospel Lite” not “Gospel Light”. It’s home to the 6% tithe, 7 of the 10 commandments, and a form of tolerance you won’t find anywhere else. (including Scripture) Where the knowledge of man is worshipped, earthly wisdom embraced, and spiritual ignorance bliss. Having a form of godliness, but denying its power.
A “form of godliness” is more dangerous than you may think. Malcolm Smith once said he’d rather teach a bible study attended by drug addicts and prostitutes than religious people, because addicts and prostitutes see their need for Jesus.
Form of godliness (FOG) will greatly restrict your vision, blinding you to the possibility you may be on the wrong road.
Religious people say the right things, post the right memes, and believe they’re on the right road. Invoking the name of Jesus, they may even prophesy, drive out demons, and do many miracles. But just wearing the jersey doesn’t put you on the team.
THE NARROW ROAD
“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
The entrance of the small gate is marked by a bloodied wooden cross. It’s where Jesus suffered and died, paid a debt He didn’t owe, and one we could never repay. From it flows unending grace and unconditional mercy. It’s at the foot of this cross you must bend a knee and bow your heart. Surrender and repentance is the “toll” you must pay before your journey down the narrow road begins.
Some say this road is paved with gold and you hit all the lights green. But truth be told, there will be bumps along the way, unforeseen potholes, and seasons you’ll likely find yourself “under construction.” And a word of caution. You will hit some lights green, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get t-boned going through the intersection.
But it’s also a road to amazing adventures led by the greatest tour guide in history. Revealing the mysteries of God where you’ll find treasures far more precious than silver and gold. A path to peace in the midst of any storm, and the way to find purpose in life.
It’s also the only road to redemption.
Not everyone who comes to the narrow gate will enter. Many will find offense in the message of the cross, refuse to bow their knee, or accept the terms of surrender. Others will refuse to accept it’s the only road to eternal life.
Many are never told to look to the cross. Never told they must be born again in order to be adopted into the family of God. Never told of the need for repentance and the act of turning from sin. Names will appear on church membership rolls with no corresponding record in the Lambs Book of Life.
In my story, I had time to reverse course, get on the right road, and make my meeting on time. But on the day Jesus is talking about, the day we all will stand before Him, changing course will not be an option.
“That day” is certain. It will come when you least expect it, as a thief in the night. For some it will be a day of jubilation, for others a day of terror. For all, it will be a day on which the road you’ve been traveling will be revealed.
It’s the day you will stand before Jesus and hear either, “Enter in my good and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of the Lord,” or “Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness, I never knew you.”
Two roads… two destinations.
Choosing the right one matters.
The right side of the river matters.