Thursday, February 20, 2014

calling "shotgun" to this "narrow-road" living

"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 (and difficult) the road that leads to life, and only few find it."
Matthew 7:13-14

This "narrow-road" living isn't always easy.  It takes boldness, courage, and steadfastness to hold firm to our faith, convictions, and the ways of God.  Unfortunately, it's not the 6-lane, smooth-sailing, straight-shot expressway the majority hops on.  But rather the potholed, bumpy, winding backroad that few travel.  That's the narrow road.

His way.  Not the highway. But the "Higher" way.  

Too easily the world confuses this "narrow-road" with a "narrow mind,"  blind-sided by the difference.  Take heart, for their mirrors may be a little foggy.  It grieves my spirit that Christ-followers are labeled as "haters," "judgers," and "condemners."  Speaking the truth is not always an easy or comfortable thing to takes courage, humility, and trust in God when you place His ways and His truths above your comfort and your feelings.  Ironically, it often leaves others to believe you are "closed-minded," "prideful," "uncomfortable" "fearful," or "insecure."  Ultimately, they judge you for assuming you are judging others.

Don't buy it.  It's okay to stand alone.  As long as you are standing on the Word of God.

Just take a look at Duck Dynasty.  The media has had a field day painting a picture of hate and judgment over this family as they stand firm and declare their spiritual convictions against the court of public opinion.  

Unfortunately, you don't have to be famous to face such ridicule.  And the ridiculers aren't always the left-wing liberals either.  Sadly, it happens every day within and amongst believers too.  What troubles me the most isn't the fact that we disagree.  Because we can agree to disagree.  The real disheartedness comes from the lack of mature, honest, and open dialogue.  For refusing to acknowledge or hear another's heart and dismissing altogether any validity to their voice.  To eliminate the opportunity to exchange a God-honoring conversation.  It leaves no room for grace to rise and understanding to ensue.  

In the book of Jude we are urged to defend and fight for our faith, because there will be others who will try to slip in unnoticed to pervert and twist it.  It will become watered-down and others will try to shape and mold God into a god that feels good and works into the comfort of their lives and the beliefs of the public majority.  Defending our faith has nothing to do with us or the need to prove our point and justify our feelings; it has nothing to do with pride or self-righteousness.   It has everything to do with God and desiring to promote and glorify Him in and above all things.  

"I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people."  
Jude 1:3

"I have to write insisting—begging!—that you fight with everything you have in you for this faith entrusted to us as a gift to guard and cherish." 
(The MSG)

There is reason we are called to stand firm and hold tight to our faith. To be on guard. To not be shaken.  Our faith is a gift we are to protect and cherish.  This is part of the "narrow-road" living.  

"Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain."
1 Corinthians 15:58

"Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. 14 Do everything in love."
1 Corinthians 16:13-14

The truth spoken in love can be misunderstood and leave one open to judgment and rejection just because it differs from and doesn't embrace the patterns of this world.  Yet being in this world, doesn't mean we have to be of this world and polluted by it.  There is a distinction, and we are wise not to cross over that line.  Our God is about transformation, not conformation.  Conforming may spare you from ridicule, judgment, and rejection...but it may also rob you of discerning His will, fully receiving His peace and promises, or fulfilling the purposes He has for you.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."  
James 1:27

"Don’t copy (conform to) the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect." 
Romans 12:2 (NLT)

"I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one."
John 17:14-15

Even if I must stand alone, I will fight for my faith.  My approval and confidence comes from the LORD alone.  He strengthens and encourages me to stand firm in my convictions, despite the judgment that is formed against me.  I don't mind being the unpopular one or looking foolish.  There is only One in whom I will seek approval, and one day I will stand before Him to answer.   We are the salt of the earth.  And what good is salt if it has lost its saltiness? (Matthew 5:13)  

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ."
Romans 1:16

"So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded."  
Hebrews 10:35

"So don't throw away your bold faith; it will bring you rich rewards."
Hebrews 10:35 (NIRV) 

Take the backroad with me.  The "Higher" way.  Guard and cherish your faith through the potholes and twisting turns.  Be bold and confident in this "narrow-road" living.  Let God take the wheel, steer you, and pump gas into your heart with holy, Spirit-filled conviction.  I'll ride along with you.  (And when we do, I call "shotgun.")

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