The world agrees that the best message ever delivered was the part at “the end” of The Sermon on the Mount:
whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them
Unfortunately, there are two problems here. First, this isn’t the end of The Sermon on the Mount. Second, though everyone quotes this verse (enemy and friend alike), no one follows it. When I say, “no one,” that includes me and you.
It is an awesome thing that following Jesus is not simply adhering to a moral code and following a prescribed list of rituals. For if it were, the secular battle cry of “HYPOCRITE!!!” would be more than true, it would reign and remove all hope from the world of ever finding forgiveness and peace.
At the real end of the message, Jesus gives a quantitative look at finding our way to Him:
the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction and those who enter by it are many
the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life and those who find it are few
I accented a couple words to make it a bit easier to see what He said. Just for the record, we lack the power to change His proclamation.
Is it easy to sit home and do nothing? Is it hard to go speak to a neighbor about the God of All Things, who came to this world in flesh, so that all who put their faith in Him will be united with Him in eternity?
Who will find the way? I am certain it was with great sorrow that Jesus said, “those who find it are few.”
Jesus is not bloviating about some interesting idea nor is He sharing some compelling psychology. Here at the end of the Sermon on the Mount, He is making an evangelistic call:
“Will you follow me? Though the way is rough, will you evangelize my name?
Or, will you disregard My gift and embrace hypocrisy, like so many others?”
What is this hypocrisy of which I speak? Jesus explains the hypocrisy in the whole of the Sermon on the Mount: We kill, steal and fornicate with abandon while He forgives us continually. The hypocrisy is failing to be so moved by the depth of our continual sin and His continual forgiveness, that we choose to be self-righteous and pretend that we are without sin when we deal with the people around us.
What is the result of this hypocrisy? If we try to live as though we are not dreadful sinners, we diminish the gift of forgiveness and feel no urgency or obligation to share it with others.
I’m wretched. I fail at trying to fix my life. I’m not very good at praying and I am even worse at sharing my faith. Every person I let walk passed, without mentioning Jesus, burns at my conscience. Every time I notice something I shouldn’t, it burns in me. Every time I say what I shouldn’t, it burns in me. Every time I do what I shouldn’t, it burns in me. I set a horrible example of what one of Jesus’ followers should look like.
But, I submit to Him. I am nothing and He is everything. I am broken and He forgives me. I sound like a fool when I blurt out His name because I realized I looked even more foolish when I tried to sound cool or hip while I spoke about Him. Yes, by the world’s standards, it is humiliating, not sometimes, but every time. Will you let yourself go? Can you let go of your ego?
…wide gate or narrow gate?
The wide gate is for MOST people inside and outside the church. Few will ever embrace forgiveness and desire to share it with others.