Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. (Luke 13:24)
I work on Sundays and can’t get to services, but I do listen to recorded sermons when I’m able. I’ve been blessed by preachers opening up these hard verses.
“Agonizing” to enter through that narrow door and saying goodbye to all kinds of stuff we value strike me as “Hey Jesus, your messaging for recruits needs work” teachings. But while such words can repel, they also comfort. Good preachers bring out the Good News, that Jesus wants us to get through the gate and is helping us get there.
A friend’s recent sermon – it’s September! – brought in a Christmas hymn to celebrate the One who shares our hard realities and uses them to get us through the gate to real life:
The door IS OPEN!
It’s not closed with a porter at the door telling you to go clean up first, like the Pharisees who shut the door to sinners and tax collectors—its open!
Good Christian men, rejoice
With heart and soul and voice
Now ye hear of endless bliss
Jesus Christ was born for this
He hath ope’d the heav’nly door
And man is blessed evermore
That verse stopped me in my tracks and filled me with joy. Some of it was the way in which Christmas references tap into a reservoir of happy childhood memories and impressions, I’m sure.
But more of it was right there on the surface – Jesus Christ was born for this. The one I feebly worship and from whom I learn so inadequately came into the world for my endless bliss just the same. And he’s the one who opens that narrow door and keeps it open while I bumble around in all the wrong directions, clutching a bunch of life baggage that won’t fit through the door once I get to it.
Don’t just stew in anger at the waaaaay too early Christmas merchandise ads and displays. Hum yourself a Christmas hymn and think on the one who was born for this – born to open heaven’s door to each of us and all of us who seek him.