“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” -Matthew 7:13-14 KJV
With our conversations on grace and works, and in mitzvah and the sacraments, there is likely still some confusion. As human beings we tend to separate then regroup things. Yet God asks us to bring things together (see John 17). And so many ask themselves, how can we rely fully on grace if we do good works? How can we do good works if we rely on grace? And most importantly, if the path is that narrow, how can we know if we are truly saved? The answers are simple: we receive what we receive, do what we do and know what we believe is true because we are on the path of teshuvah. We know because we know.
To the Right and to the Left
When looking at the wide gate we see two sides: on the right we have fundamentalism and on the left utopianism. On the right we have the idea that we can force others to be good, or that we can show people how good we are by our piousness. Yet this never works as people find ways to brake the laws of men and do as they wish. And as no one is perfect, the pious braggart easily becomes the hypocrite in the eyes of man. Trying to contain the human will is like grabbing a fist full of water, the tighter one squeezes the more water escapes.
On the left we have the Utopian dreams. The idea that men and women can give up their Egos for the greater good. And while yes, this is the dream, at this point that’s where we still are: dreaming. We have people upset by simple ideas like public roads, public schools, public post offices, and healthcare. While these are all common things that help keep economies alive, we are not even Christlike enough as a people to unite in the things that would benefit us in our greed. How then can we unify in altruism?
The Narrow Path
What then is the narrow path? It is the combination of works and grace. The faith we have that if we choose the right humbly that others will follow. And, it is accepting people where they are as God has accepted us where we are. In the Church of Jesus Christ in Christian Fellowship we are inclusive. This means that we accept everyone regardless of our differences. DoS 3c Article V states in part: “Membership, ordinances, callings, and fellowship are open to all, regardless of race, gender orientation, sexual orientation, or marital status.” Does this mean we wouldn’t baptize someone that is homophobic? or sexist? or racist? No. We would love them in Christ. They would merely need to understand that we wouldn’t cater to their fears.
Likewise, some like to quote Jesus’ conversation with the rich man as proof that we must give up everything we own to escape hell (Luke 18:18-26, see also Luke 6:24 & 12:21). But it’s not wealth Jesus was asking this man to leave behind, it was what his wealth represented. In verse twenty-nine Jesus lists other things disciples had given up for the sake of the kingdom of God:
Are we to literally walk away from our families? our homes? No! We are to leave behind the Egoism that ties us to these things. We do not own our wealth. Our families, our homes, everything we have is a temporary possession. If the Lord asks us to give something up we do not do so for greater gain. We do so because of what we have already gained: the Spirit of God.
A Two-edge Sword
The reason this path is narrow is because our choices are a two-edge sword. If we have balance in the middle we are safe. But fall to the Egoism of the right or the worldly altruism to the left and we cut off our own heads. Does this mean we shouldn’t support those seeking a better world, or pay taxes? No. As more and more people vote for leaders that are willing to help us be one we are, together, becoming one. The more we vote for leaders that want to stop wars and help build peace the closer to peace we are coming. This is tikkun olam, together we are repairing the world.
Pride and Egoism says we cannot, but God says we can. We must then place our faith in God. And this is the reality of salvation. It’s not about where we’re going but where we are. It’s not about who we’re becoming but who we are, and even more important who’s we are. If we are God’s then His goals are our goals. And we know that goal: to bring Heaven to the earth.
“Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” -Matthew 6:9-10