Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Reflections on the narrow way

For narrow is the gate, and straight the way, that leads unto life, and few are they who find it. - Mt. 7:14

Christians from diverse backgrounds have been reflecting on Jesus' words in Matthew's Gospel about the unpopularity of Christian discipleship. Andrew Hamilton at backyardmissionary, for example, considers the implications of Mt. 7:14 for evangelism:

It is the road less travelled - the less desirable road - the road of true, cross carrying discipleship. . . . For an evangelist that's a hard message to hear! We all want to see as many people as possible come to faith, but I have had a gutful of trying to motivate people who don't want to be disciples to live like disciples.

Hamo's thoughts reflect similar ideas expressed by Joseph Ratzinger, better known as Pope Benedict XVI. This paragraph is from a recent Newsweek article:

In a series of interviews published as a 1996 book entitled "Salt of the Earth," Ratzinger said: "We might have to part with the notion of a popular Church. It is possible that we are on the verge of a new era in the history of the Church, perhaps very different from those we have faced in the past, when Christianity will resemble the mustard seed [Matthew 13:31], that is, will continue only in the form of small and seemingly insignificant groups, which yet will oppose evil with all their strength and bring Good into this world." Indeed, he added, "Christianity might diminish into a barely discernible presence."

That's a radical thought, but fully in keeping with yet more words of Jesus found in Matthew's Gospel: "For many are called, but few chosen" (Mt. 22:14).

Hamo wonders how this narrow-gate vision of the church plays out on the ground:

It seems that Jesus sees disciples as being few and far between - a rare commodity. I am still wondering what this means for how I lead and live my life in this community.

Good questions. Any thoughts?


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