Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Road that Leads to Life

One of the scriptures that Christians always use to try and prove that most people go to hell (which they believe to be an eternal place of torment...I will keep saying that, because I'm not saying I don't believe in hell.  Don't know what it is exactly, but I'm not going to deny that the Bible speaks of it. My argument will continually be that whatever hell is, it's not eternal)  is found in Matthew:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

First of all, notice heaven and hell are not mentioned in this scripture.  Destruction and life are.  Where is the narrow gate leading?  To life.  Where is the broad road leading?  Destruction.  And what is the narrow gate?  This is where everyone stands up and says, "JESUS!". (you have to have grown up in church to appreciate that)  But what about Jesus makes him a gate?  "Ummmm....because he died for our sins?"  I'm not trying to mock, because it's a tough question.  I think you have to really look at what Jesus is teaching to try and understand what this narrow gate is, because I don't think he's instructing us to say the sinner's prayer so we can get our free ticket to heaven.  In my opinion, the terror of the threat of eternal hell makes people believe whatever they think will keep them safe, which the church has taught (as I explained in the previous post) that because God punished Jesus, he doesn't have to punish them...if they accept the deal.  (asking Jesus in your heart /praying regularly /going to church once a week or more /and following certain rules determined by the church, especially the sexual ones) But what is Jesus talking about before he mentions this narrow way?

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake?  If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him! So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets."

Jesus is talking about a radical trust in God.  A good God, a God that gives good things.  And then he says "so", (as in "because of this") "do to others what you would have them do to you".  If you do not believe in a good God, one that you can completely trust, you will not love your neighbor as yourself.  You cannot, because you have to take care of yourself...because God can't be trusted.  Fear of losing things, of people taking things from you, of people hurting you...this will keep you grasping, guarding, and fighting to keep yourself safe from the neighbors who are out to get you.  And so maybe this narrow way is being able to let go of this need--being able to let go in trust, even if it means someone may hurt you...even kill you.  Talk about a narrow gate!  What if you ask God to keep your family safe, and then your neighbor hits your kid with their car because they were drunk.  Could you say, "God is good.  He takes care of us", and then treat that neighbor with kindness?  I think truly very few of us have gone through this gate.  And what saddens me most is the people who claim Jesus as their savior are so often the ones who are the biggest worriers.  They are often the ones who make the biggest fuss if your going to take something away from them. (especially the right to say "Merry Christmas")  But how do you really trust in a God who will at best destroy you, at worst torture you forever if you can't find this narrow path?  And what does it mean to be destroyed, anyway?  I'll share my thoughts about that next time.