The Narrow Gate

My beloved was once told by a Pastor's wife that the verse "Do unto others" was not in the Bible! While technically that is correct, the concept of it is though...
"So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets." (Matthew 7:12, ESV)
My blog today is not actually about the "Do unto others" but the verses that following along afterwards...
"Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy [1] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Matthew 7:13-14, ESV)
The picture that comes to my mind when i read/meditate on these verses is one of having to persistently look to the goal. To make a constant struggle (for lack of a better word coming to mind right now) to stay on course. No cruise control, no coasting. For me part of that struggle is maintaining a balance in my walk with God. I have noticed that God has not allowed me the "luxury" of becoming "legalistic" (again, a word chosen for lack of a good alternative at the ready) in my pursuit of fellowship. For me practices of "read three chapters a day", or "make sure you spend time in prayer at the same time everyday" have been very short lived. You see, i like patterns, i like set plans. So much so that things can become 'robotic'. I am doing them out of habit and i am not concentrating on the task at hand. So for me my life is a pretty good example of Ecclesiastes 3:1-15:
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

What gain has the worker from his toil? I have seen the business that God has given to the children of man to be busy with. He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also, he has put eternity into man's heart, yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end. I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.

I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him. That which is, already has been; that which is to be, already has been; and God seeks what has been driven away. [1](from the ESV)

There have been times in my life when i have had to push, to strive, to seek God in one way... but that season never lasts in my life. There always comes a time when i need to lean more on grace and seek God in another - new/different - way. The saying "there is nothing new under the sun" is also from Ecclesiastes (1:9), but i believe this in regards to a lot of man's bits of "wisdom" be it from Monastic Monks, Hindus, or 'Buddha'. That does not mean everything is good for me.
"All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor." (1 Corinthians 10:23-24, ESV)
I think a good example can be found in how i consider myself a "samurai" for Christ. I seek to pursue my Lord (Jesus Christ) like a samurai of feudal Japan would serve his earthly (human) master - but in all things however i pursue to serve my Lord... it must line up with the Bible. For example, if i stumble and fail my Lord (aka as sin) i do not have to commit ritual suicide to appease His honor (or my own for that matter). He has already taken that failure and paid the penalty. I am called to trust and have faith in His grace, His sacrifice on the cross on my behalf. So, in the end i do not see the Ying-Yang symbol as a symbol of some eternal struggle between good and evil. That struggle has already been resolved. Sin may still wage its war, but in the end it has been defeated. No, for me the symbol represents my own struggle to walk the path that God has laid out before me. The path may be straight, but it is i who struggles to maintain that straight line. My own internal struggle between "license" and legalism. Back when i was a "baby" Christian i used to wear a "patch" jacket. They used to be fairly popular in the 80's. The jacket was sort of a canvas in which to put patches, etc. to display things about your beliefs. Sort of like bumper stickers for pedestrians. 8) Anyway, mine was one i had made while i was in basic training. On my left should i proudly wore a Ying Yang Patch (pictured right), and i would often get "guff" from my fellow Christians about it. That "guff" stemmed from a misunderstanding about what it was i was proudly displaying. I was not saying i believed in the eternal struggle of good and evil, what i was saying is that i was proud to be a member of the 29th Infantry Division. We all need to be careful lest we fall, but what is harmful for me may not be harmful for a brother or sister - and vice versa. We all need to work out our salvation with earnest (Philippians 2:12-13). I will end with this:
The next day, as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the housetop about the sixth hour [2] to pray. And he became hungry and wanted something to eat, but while they were preparing it, he fell into a trance and saw the heavens opened and something like a great sheet descending, being let down by its four corners upon the earth. In it were all kinds of animals and reptiles and birds of the air. And there came a voice to him: “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.” But Peter said, “By no means, Lord; for I have never eaten anything that is common or unclean.” And the voice came to him again a second time, “What God has made clean, do not call common.” (Acts 10:9-15, ESV)
"For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7b, ESV)

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