Wednesday, August 19, 2009

THE GATES OF LIFE

I believe the Word, and crawl on hands and knees in a perpetual state of hypocrisy trying to do and become the things He spoke about. One of those things was the different type of gates presented daily to us to walk through…the small gate and the wide. What I love about Jesus and his teachings are the dichotomies embedded in many of them. We know them; to be rich, become poor; to be a leader, be a servant; to be the greatest, become the least. Implicit in the parable of the gates is another dichotomy.

I believe that to enter the small gate - the one Jesus said leads down a narrow path of eternal abundance - our hearts must be broad. Our hearts must be open to life and absent of fear. Think of what Jesus meant before speaking this parable when he asked us to loosen our grip on security (fear) and act like a bird, relying completely on God’s provisions. All that acquiring and worry has to be replaced with something…maybe things like risky faith, or simplicity and creativity or paying attention to what the Spirit is doing, like the wind, around us. Broadening, by its very nature, increases abundance.

To walk that narrow path, our hearts must also be humble and meek enough to accept, as God’s glory, all creatures big and small; all peoples and their cultures; all dichotomous individuals with their wonder and corresponding sins. Then our hearts must be big enough to look past and forgive those sins, as we extend a human hand of love. It is the love, Jesus said, that will conquer whatever wound or evil hold - and never fail.

Open hearts are ones that have been broken and felt the disappointment of life. They have struggled, spending each day of beating asking the hard questions, seeking the tough answers and knocking wildly to see God’s face at the door.

Open hearts are also the ones that treasure within them the broad joys of life, who have learned to beat to the drum of the terminally ill…without the illness…taking nothing for granted but giving thanks in (literally) everything. From the simple to the sublime. From the good to the bad. Broad hearts…few and far between.

I also believe, in contrast, that to enter the Broad Gate of destruction is easy and most people, Jesus said, will take that path of least resistance. To enter this gate requires that your heart be narrow – that you judge people and situations quickly and often. This gate is not difficult to find, as it is tall, gaudy and wide. There is a line of people filtering through it complaining about their rights (6:25-32), or enjoying sweet fellowship around the common enemy du jour (5:43), or holding grudges against their brethren (5:21-23) or Ceasar for something they did or didn’t do.

Before entering this gate there is no requirement to seek for it, to ask where it might be found, to knock to see if it is the gate God stand ‘s beyond or the one he closes behind you. It is just there and it looks like the right way to go.

You have heard it said, “If it was easy, everybody would do it.”
“Truly,” Jesus said, “only a few find it…and you will know them by their
fruit.”