Friday, 20 August 2010

Enter through the narrow door

On the Gospel of Luke (13:22-30) 

The central question this week is "Lord, will those who are saved be few?" (Luk 13:23 RSV). The passage does not tell if the questions was put to Jesus to trap him by a foe, trying to catch Him out, or if it was made by a disciple who was genuinely wondering. Elsewhere we read that when the disciples heard His comment "it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Mat 19:24 RSV), that they were greatly astonished saying, "Who then can be saved?" (Mat 19:25 RSV). The question of who can be saved is a question a lot of people are wondering about. What do we need to do to earn our way into heaven? But maybe even more often it might be wondered what we can get away with without losing the reward of heaven.

In this passage Jesus does not answer the question directly, but advises the listeners to do their best: "Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able" (Luk 13:24 RSV) The narrow door is not a door of weighing our deeds in a balance, not the gathering brownie points in order to get in. Maybe that is the big door or gate, the way of doing whatever is required, but not really converting ones heart, but this seems to be the gate which "is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction" (Mat 7:13 RSV).

This is an important aspect of our faith. While we don't separate deeds from faith, it i important that at the end of the day life is not about ticking the boxes, but about genuinely following Jesus. It is a change of heart, an encounter with God which changes lives. Th Gospel is a call to conversion, and this conversion comes forth from the grace which comes from God. The encounter with God is the encounter with Love, and our souls are infused with love during this encounter. This automatically changes us and makes us life a live more in according to the person who God created us to be.

The risk is with just ticking the boxes that there will never really be a change of heart, we never really encounter God. The reason to tick the boxes in that case might not be the love of God, but our concern about our own well being in the future, possibly doing as little 'inconvenient' duties as possible. This however is not according to Gods plan to engage with us and to have a relationship with us, it is not a preparation for Heaven where we live in a relationship with God for eternity. It is focused more on the self, and the resulting response of the Lord to somebody who never engaged with Him is "I do not know where you come from" (Luk 13:25 RSV). Just a basic familiarity with the Gospel is not enough: "We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets" (Luk 13:26 RSV). There is a need to engage, a need to encounter.

Therefore who is going to be saved might completely surprise us: "some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last." (Luk 13:30 RSV) It is impossible to judge from the outside the relationship somebody has with God, but the sure way for ourselves is to seek this encounter with the Gospel, which is the encounter with Jesus himself.

1 comment:

kkollwitz said...

As in St Paul's case, sometimes the change of heart comes all at once; for others it's a lifelong process. Thus the tickmarks can be a way to assess one's progress along that path.

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