Sermons

Summary: Jesus calls us to walk the narrow way; that’s positively countercultural.

THE NARROW DOOR

Luke 13:22-30

David E. Nichols

Nobody likes to be thought of as narrow. It’s a great insult when spoken about educated people. We are here because we have been educated out of our narrowness or we hope to be educated out of our narrowness.

One of the worst things that people can say about us educated Christians is: “They are interesting people, but they’re just so narrow.”

We would rather have almost anything else said about us by way of criticism than the words: “He’s/she’s narrow.”

You pay us a compliment when you say that we are “broad-minded.” To be “broad-minded” usually means that we are open to whatever comes along.

Read all the magazines--at least look at the pictures. Let your mind go free. Open it to whatever happens. Be open to experience. Read all the new books; see all the new movies. Be with it, hip, open-minded. For God’s sake--don’t be so narrow.

When I was a teen, I appeared in a talent show playing guitar, singing a Rick Nelson and a Beatle number. It was great. Instant popularity that lasted about two hours, maybe. Our youth sub-district, we had sub-districts then, that means that churches in the area where you lived would get together monthly for a big youth meeting. The next meeting was to be a talent show. I was ready. I had my numbers. I would represent my group.

My mother got on the phone and into an argument with my youth leader. My mother, you see, never failed to argue if something was important to her. She explained that I wouldn’t be singing at the youth talent show next month. The youth leader didn’t understand. My mother said something like: “Well, there’s too much of the world in the church now.”

That was it. I had missed my big opportunity to sing my two well-rehearsed songs for the youth of much of the area. It was my chance at fame, and maybe, girls. My mother nixed it. I remember at the time thinking that my mother sure was narrow-minded.

So, things are busy around here, in this college town. I was jogging the other morning and I couldn’t get across the street for all the cars. Orientation, classes to get or drop, fees to be paid, dorms, or apartments to be moved into. Majors to be declared. Assignments; syllabi. Things are buzzing around here most all the time.

And, we say that the main purpose for our being here at University is to teach/learn how to be open-minded. There are no easy answers, you know; sure, you may learn math, and science, but remember that life is difficult and complicated. You must be open-minded. Forget your parent’s teaching, your Sunday School faith. You’re at college now. Be open-minded.

Several years ago, I was eating lunch after church with a family out in the country. I was in school at Duke, learning to be open-minded, and I was serving this church, working with the youth. The conversation turned to this couple “living together”, “shacking up”. They lived just across the field. The mother said: “Well, you can’t be a Christian and live like that.” She was so narrow-minded, certainly, not open-minded like me. She had never been to college, you see.

Luke chapter 13 tells us the story of “narrow-minded” Jesus. Now, I know this may go hard for some of you “open-minded” people out there, but bear with Luke. See this through.

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem. He is preaching and teaching when these people ask Jesus: “How many will be saved? Many or few?”

It’s the kind of question that we open-minded folk like to dwell on. How many will be saved? If many will be saved, then we’re in. If few will be saved, we’re surely in the few.

They ask: “How many will be saved?” And Jesus, in typical fashion, ignores the question, perhaps because he knows that the question is a set-up. It’s like when we talk about all the people who’ve never heard the Gospel. We’re sure we’re in; we just want to focus on the others out there.

Jesus won’t answer the question. He says: “Strive to enter the narrow door; for many will try to enter but will be unable. When once the owner of the house has shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then in reply, he will say to you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will say, ‘we ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I do not know where you come from; go away from me, all you evil doers!’”

Jesus says: “Then there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the Kingdom of God, and you yourselves will be thrown out. Then, people will come from east and west, from north and south, and will eat in the Kingdom of God. Some who are last will be first; some who are first will be last.”

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