“Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough.” – Luke 13.24
Of the many peculiar statements in the Gospels, this one also demonstrates that there is much beneath the surface of Jesus’ teachings. Taken on its own, this verse reminds us that there is something required of us beyond just faith. Something that requires strength. Effort. Cleverness. Intention. Desire.
Such depth and nuance in Jesus’ teachings shows us the risks of getting boxed in by any particular theological dogma or doctrine of theology, especially the box of Protestant theology that at least historically, has reduced Jesus’ teachings to Luther’s interpretation through the Pauline perspective of faith.
So, may I be blunt: faith alone isn’t enough. Believing in Jesus isn’t enough. Many who believe in Jesus and who have been “saved by faith alone” will attempt to enter the kingdom of God, but WILL NOT be strong enough. Because faith without work(s) is WEAK (i.e. dead, James 2.14 – 26).
As we live in the field of faith, all resistance to us by life can be useful to our growth. Faith helps us not give up. We are strengthened not because things go perfectly for us, but because things test our faith so to deepen it. All testing, suffering and difficulties are something of a narrow gate through which we pass so to strengthen us.
What I am very interested in, is the invitation to grow, deepen, mature, strengthen, so to endure, receive and cultivate that Something in me that is Most Real and connected to the Rule of God, so that my life is an extension of the Authority of God – which is at heart, what the Kingdom of God means.
The kingdom of God reveals how the Rules of the Universe can occur in harmony in us. The kingdom of God neutralizes the swings of randomness and ignorance. The kingdom of God awakens us from our sleepwalking-behavior and negative emotional reactivity. The kingdom of God reduces their influence by the Center of Grace that holds us upright, conscious, strong, unmovable, heavy with conscious love amidst the tumultuous storms of life. It is a grace-filled love that is not a sentimentality, but rather a relating force of the Glory of God.
As these dynamics occur more and more in us, we are strengthened not for our own victory in the world-game-of-Life, but strengthened so to serve and give myself in service and wisdom for the sake of others also on the journey toward the Kingdom, as Jesus demonstrated for us.
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