Sermon 31~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 11

Enter ye at the strait gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way, which leadeth to destruction, and many there be that go in therat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Matthew 7:13-14

John Wesley in this short conversation alludes to the various ways we can be walking the broad way and the one way we can walk the narrow way.

it is a thousand times broader; since there is only one way of keeping the commandment; for we do not properly keep it, unless both the thing done, the manner of doing it, and all the other circumstances, are right: But there are a thousand ways of breaking every commandment; so that this gate is wide indeed.

When we look, really look into the hows, whys and wherefores of being on the broad trail, who of us can say we constantly, every second walk the narrow?

What would it look like if we did?

What would our neighbourhoods, our communities look like if we did?

It is not about law keeping>>> It is about embracing the fulfilment of the Law, Jesus Christ.

What our churches be like if we all were on the narrow way?

reimagine church, reimagine life >>> life in ABUNDANCE.

There are people even in church communities who will try and lead us onto the broad road, and we let them because it is easier, it is our natural inclination.

BUT

going deep, deep into scripture and deep into ourselves, seeking out the dark corners of our minds, renewing our minds all the time, revitalising our hearts. We can do this individually  but we can also do this as community>>>

A community of believers living a life of abundance. So our faith can be tangibly felt by others, so the love of God can be tangibly seen in our lives.

Are we athirst for God? And panting after a renewal of his likeness?

In Luke’s gospel that gives an account of the wide and narrow gate, he uses the phrase strive to enter in.

23 Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,

24 Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. 25 When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:

Strive in the King James version has been changed to make every effort in the NIV. But it means something more like to endeavour with strenuous zeal, to agonise. When Paul writes to Timothy he says “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept my faith.” The fought in that quote is the same as strive. To stay on the narrow path involves a fight, a spiritual battle as we love to say, and moreso, a very real heart and mind battle between our natural state and holiness.

There is agony in some of decisions we have to make. There are times when the narrow way is just too darn hard and we yearn for the green pastures of the broad way. But, weighing it up rationally>>> broad = death, narrow = life. Perspective restored.

We must strive with all fervour and zeal, pray without ceasing; at all times, in all places, lifting our hearts to the Lord.

Wesley ends this conversation with:

To conclude. “Strive to enter in at the strait gate,” not only by this agony of soul, of conviction, of sorrow, of shame, of desire, of fear, of unceasing prayer; but likewise by ordering thy conversation aright, by walking with all thy strength in all the ways of God, the way of innocence, of piety, and of mercy. Abstain from all appearance of evil: Do all possible good to all men: Deny thyself, thy own will, in all things, and take up thy cross daily. Be ready to cut off thy right hand, to pluck out thy right eye and cast it from thee; to suffer the loss of goods, friends, health, all things on earth, so thou mayst enter into the kingdom of heaven!

And no amount of modern, slang or vernacular language can improve on this.

It is Lent.

If we only kept this paragraph with us as we journey through Lent>>> what a difference it would make in our lives and the lives of those in our communities.

We are loved.

Let’s share it around …narrow gate

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