12/28/09

The Narrow Way or a Cultural Christian?

Commentary on Matthew 7:13-14
Jesus' image of the narrow way should have made sense to his hearers (v. 13). Greek, Roman and Jewish writers often employed the image of the two paths in life, and those particularly concerned with the future judgment especially employed the image of the two ways, the narrow one leading to life and the broad one to destruction.
Some people's assurance of salvation is a delusion (Mt 7:13-14). To enter the narrow gate of the kingdom we must knock, that is, request that God make us citizens of his kingdom (vv. 7-8). The difficulty of Jesus' way includes embracing by repentance both persecution (5:10-12) and the ethics of the kingdom taught in the Sermon on the Mount.
Most Jewish people in Jesus' day were religious; respecting God and keeping his commandments were an important part of their culture. These would be the many people of whom Jesus' hearers would think when they heard him. Yet Jesus, like a few contemporaries who were particularly scrupulous, declared that most people were lost. Jesus intends his words to jar us from complacency, to consider the genuineness of our commitment to him.
One wonders how many members in our churches today assume that they are saved when in fact they treat Jesus' teachings lightly-people who give no thought to their temper, their mental chastity, their integrity and so forth during the week (compare 5:21-48), then pretend to be religious or even spiritually gifted in church. Do we have the courage to communicate Jesus' message as clearly as he meant it to be conveyed, to warn ourselves and others that it is possible for people to assume they are saved and yet be damned? Some texts in the Bible provide assurance to suffering Christians that the kingdom is theirs; this text challenges "cultural Christians," those following only Christian tradition rather than Christ himself, to realize that they need conversion.
Bible Gateway

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