Friday, December 3, 2010

Narrow Minded

We are progressing through the huge Sermon on the Mount, a sermon so impressive in its length and content that only the writer of Matthew seems to remember it; although the Gospel of Luke does capture much of the same content elsewhere. Recently, we discussed how Jesus wants people to non-hypocritically judge people, even to the point of deciding whether or not they are worthy to hear the Gospel.

Jesus then tells you to ask God for anything that you want because He will give it to you (Matthew 7:7-11, Luke 11:9-13), but we did learn previously that you should be very careful when asking for something from God.

Next, Jesus provides what may be His best teaching, the Golden Rule in Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31. That must have been a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down, because what follows sure leaves an icky taste in your mouth...

Narrow Minded
A common Christian mantra is that whatever, wherever, and whenever God has chosen to set up and interact with humanity, it is to do the most possible good, have the most positive net effect, and ultimately to Save the most souls for eternity. It is an inescapable conclusion, because anything less suggests a God who is less than perfect in His omniscience, good will, and love; contrary to how the Bible describes Him. Yet other verses in the Bible make you wonder how true that sentiment is.

In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says:
“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.” NIV
Unpacking this statement, first we find that there appears to be a call to personal responsibility. Enter through the narrow gate seems like a command for everyone, with the implication being to do so by obeying the will of God; that being done by obeying His Law, which is in essence (God believes) is the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12).

Second, this statement is a warning. Take action, obey God, or be destroyed. That is a unique twist in a loving relationship. Sure, you could see some similarities in a parental love, where parents demand obedience to preserve their child's life, like by not allowing their child to play in the street. The difference is that the parent is acting to protect their child from outside forces, but God is acting to protect people from Himself. It is God who will do the destroying, so this is a direct threat.

Lastly, and most revealing, this statement is an harsh reality check. The overwhelming majority of the people who have lived, are living, or will ever live are destined to be destroyed by God; a destruction which may very well include eternal torment.

If this destruction was solely based on personal responsibility, the personal decision to accept or reject God's forgiveness, that would only be a slight consolation to the troubled mind who walks around knowing that almost everyone he sees is destined for an unsavory end. Yet there is another factor to consider. In Luke 13:22-27, when answering a question about the Saving of relatively few people, Jesus tells a parable where some of those who commune with God will actually find themselves subject to damnation at the final judgement. Why?

As we have seen in our study of Deuteronomy 9 and the words of Paul in Romans 9:16-21, God chooses those who are destined for His Salvation, but this decision is not based on their own merit. This decision is only based on God's will and arbitrary mercy. So the apparent command to enter in at the narrow gate is rendered vacuous; simply yielding a commentary about what is happening.

Ultimately, this reveals that God is not trying to Save the greatest number of people. In fact, God made, or chose to destine, billions of people for destruction only because it suited His will. I ask you, how can that be perfection? How can that be love?


  1. Why do you call yourself wise? why do you call yourself a fool? Is it because you are processing the fact of God in a western mind which you claim to be wise, and because you don't have the answers about God you are also calling yourself a fool.
    Why does God have to be a "Loving & Fair God" for you? - is it really about you accepting God? I would rather hope God accept you? God can do and be and know whatever He wants Father/Judge whatever! Why don't you ask a Jew why they are Gods choosen people and are they happy about it?

  2. Hello Anonymous. I'm not sure what a western mind has to do with it, but I call myself the wise fool in similar sentiment to the quote up top of Romans 1:22.

    Why does God have to be a "Loving & Fair God" for you?Why does God have to be a "Loving & Fair God" for you?
    Well, I guess it's because the Bible says that God is love and that His justice is perfect. ;-) Sure, God can be a complete jerk if He wants to be. That would just be contrary to the qualities which the Bible explicitly ascribes to God. So God must be loving and fair, or the Bible is a lie. Let me know which is the case, if you would.

    Why don't you ask a Jew why they are Gods choosen people and are they happy about it?
    This is a rather strange question. The Bible says why the Jews are the chosen people, so I'm not sure why I would have to ask one. My limited experience with Jews suggests that some are indeed happy about being Jewish, while others are not so much.