Sunday, April 26, 2015

Why Shortcuts Come Up Short

By Allen White

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. Matthew 7:13-14

Have you ever sat through a seminar where the speaker promised a surefire way to get rich quick? I’m always waiting for the punchline to be: If you want to get rich like me, then sell tickets to your own seminar. After all, if their methods worked so well, why are they being so generous with their information? 

Shortcuts usually come up short. We do learn our lesson – don’t give 50 bucks to any fast talking stranger who blows through town. See, this devotional has already made you $50 richer.

The wide gate gives plenty of elbow room. You go with the crowd and go with the flow. But, if the whole crowd took a shortcut to being rich, then who would be rich? Everybody would have the same. If the whole crowd gave the least of themselves to gain spiritual assurance, then no wonder so many flounder in spiritual mediocrity.

But, the narrow gate – it’s a bottle neck. It’s inconvenient. It requires sacrifice. It makes us uncomfortable. But, it also leads to Heaven. The wide gate, according to Jesus, leads to the other place.

Many of us spent much of our teenage years trying to be unique by blending in with the crowd. We fought our parents over expressing our individuality by dressing exactly like our peers. Our concern wasn’t creativity, but conformity. Only the freaks and geeks stood out. No one wanted to sit at that table.

How much has the world squeezed us into its mold? Many people want to be religious enough for a good reputation, but not so religious to stand out. Now, we all know a few people who are “over-saved.” These are the folks who make every statement into a spiritual analogy. “Boy, I saved a lot at the mall.” “Well, Jesus saves us completely.” You get the picture.

The wide gate caters to Christian consumers who need to be entertained to stay interested in church. Let’s be honest. If someone has to put on a show in order for you to follow Christ, what is this getting you? If you want a show, stay home and watch TV.

The narrow way is radical. It dangerously sets you apart from the crowd. The narrow way will take you to places where you never imagined yourself going. The narrow way is risky. The wide gate is safe, well, until you reach the end.

How are you playing it safe in your relationship with God? Is He your spiritual blankey or binky when you have trouble? Or is God the director of your life?

As Francis Chan puts it, “You have a choice each day to depend on yourself, to live safely, and to try to control your life.

“Or you can live as you were created to live – as a temple of the Holy Spirit of God, as a person dependent on Him, desperate for God the Spirit to show up and make a difference.

When you begin living a life characterized by walking with the Spirit, that is when people will begin to look not to you but to our Father in heaven and give Him the praise” (from The Forgotten God, page 156.

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