Have you ever read a passage in the Bible that completely changed the way you looked at something? I have a vivid memory of the first time I read Matthew 7. It didn’t change the way I looked at one particular thing in life as much as it did the way I look at life itself as a whole. Particularly, I’m talking about Matthew 7:13-14. It says, “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 the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
A few? These verses awoke something in me. Am I in the few? I’ve had this post on my heart for a long time, but have struggled to come up with a way to articulate it. My following thoughts are not from someone who thinks they have it all figured out. It’s coming from someone who has questions, and has found information in the Bible to help answer them.
Are We Missing Crucial Aspects of the Gospel?
I look at the Bible and compare it to the modern church and it deepens my questions about whether we as Christians are missing a large part of the gospel and substituting it for cultural normalcies. If you and I see someone who is attending church every Sunday, we would probably assume they are solid in their faith and walking out a Christian lifestyle. We might also say a prayer at an alter call and think that’s the finish line for our faith. It’s a consistent thought in our culture, but does it match up to Biblical standards?
In the Bible I see Jesus give grand commands, such as Matthew 4:19 when he says “‘Come, follow me,’ Jesus said, ‘and I will send you out to fish for people.’” Or what about the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 28:19-20, “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.’” Those commands mean much more than going to a church every Sunday. I believe the importance of belonging to a home church cannot be overstated, but there’s much more to it than simply attending. Christians are called to be more than church attenders.
Where Do We Go From Here?
What more can we do to attempt to live up to what Jesus has commanded us? The book of James has some amazing insight into that. In James 1:22 it says, “ Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.” This verse makes me want to take a harder look at everything Jesus said and make sure I am applying it to my life. It says to not just listen, but act. If we are just going to church for an hour a week and remain unchanged, what good is attending? That’s not the life Jesus describes in the Bible. Later on in chapter two, James says “What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?” and “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” It’s important to point out James isn’t saying we have to work for our salvation. That’s not it at all. What he is saying though, is Christians should be so transformed from our old lives that our new lives have certain qualities and actions Jesus talks about.
I don’t want to come across as downplaying the grace Jesus offers us, but I do want to draw attention to the fact that it is easy to get comfortable in our faith. Lately I have been questioning and challenging what I think I know about the Bible and trying to back it up with actual scripture. This has made me aware of the many differences between Christians now and the Christians we see in the New Testament of the Bible. I want to use this as a challenge of sorts, to hopefully motivate someone else to look further into what scripture really has to say about how Christians are supposed to live. It’s easy to get comfortable in what is culturally acceptable and easy, but it may not be what we are really called to be as Christ followers.
In Romans 12, Paul says, “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.” When we become Christ followers, we should live every day to further God’s mission and strive to bring people to Christ. Practically, that can be done in numerous ways. It is something I want to get better at myself. I encourage you to examine yourself and spend time in prayer to figure out if you have been missing an important piece of the gospel. It is definitely a process, but it is one worth walking through.