In the lead up to the parable of the Narrow Door, Jesus gets away with something I almost never do. He doesn’t answer the man’s question. You can read the account in Luke 13:22-30 (CLICK HERE to read it)
The man asks Jesus, “Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?” What do you think was behind that question? I wonder if he is thinking about his odds of being saved.
Perhaps he is wondering if being saved is worth the effort. After all, if only 24 people are going to be saved, he might reason that it’s time to eat, drink and be merry because he isn’t going to be one of the 24 best people on earth.
Or perhaps he is wondering what he can get away with. If basically everyone is going to be saved, there is no point in making serious effort toward being saved. Relax!
But Jesus doesn’t answer his question. His responses goes to the man’s attitude:
“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. — Luke 13:24 (ESV)
Jesus doesn’t say, “yes,” or “no,” to the man’s questions. he says, “Listen. You look out for you. Strive to enter through the narrow door.” We should particularly note the word, “strive.” This word speaks to the direction of our lives rather than the accomplishments of our lives. Striving is a great word because it speaks to continual effort. We might miss an opportunity to accomplish something, but now is always the opportunity to strive toward something. Thinking in terms of striving means that each day is a new day, each morning is a fresh start. Each moment is a new chance to strive to enter through the narrow door. There is never an opening for despair or hopelessness for one whose concentration is striving father than finishing.
Then he tells a little story that illustrates a point he makes in many ways in many different places: If you are hearing this, you are not lost. But time is not infinite. Now is moment to decide what door your are going to go through.
Jesus also makes it clear that the way we live our lives matters, not just what we say we believe. It’s not having joined some “Jesus club” that matters. It’s not intellectually assenting to certain beliefs that makes the difference. It’s how you live your lives that matters because that is what shows what you relieve believe to be true. In the story, it is not people who believed incorrectly that are sent away, but the “workers of evil.”
But after Jesus makes it clear that not everyone will find redemption, he also makes it clear that many from across the world will find redemption. Not only that, but lots of people are going to be surprised by how everything turns out:
And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” — Luke 13:29–30 (ESV)
In the next three blog posts, we will explore three specific ways you can strive every day to enter through the narrow door:
- Respond to aggression/anger/criticism with love
- Respond to trespass with forgiveness
- Respond to difficulty with hope.