Just a short (I hope!) meditation on the golden rule and the narrow gate.
This is near the conclusion of the sermon on the mount. I’ve written on parts of this sermon before. I will be spending a lot of time here this year, but probably not for another month or so. I have come to believe that this sermon is far more important than we (seem to) believe. The Sermon on the Mount is central to who Jesus Christ was. It is central to the “mission” of Jesus. Three long, bold, red-letter chapters, staring us in the face. And as much as we possibly can, we do our best to pretend it’s not there.
“So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy 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 7:12-14 ESV. This is the Golden Rule – to do unto others as you would have them to unto you. THIS IS THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS. This is not God’s command for us to “play nice”. This is the declaration of Jesus Christ as the one line summation of everything the Old Testament ever taught. It’s not something just to be taught in children’s Sunday school. It’s not a nice slogan about how to be a nice person. It’s how we are called to be like Jesus. Because it’s how Jesus lived every day of His life right up to the crucifixion. It’s the path he laid for us to follow. Doing to others as we would have them do to us. We want to be forgiven? Offer forgiveness. We want remorse from those who have hurt us. Offer remorse to those we have hurt. We want help when we’re down. So we offer help to others who are down. If we are thirsty we would like a drink. If we are hungry, we would like something to eat. If we are “outdoors”, we would like a bed to sleep on. Right???
And this is spoken by Jesus, in the very same breath and the very same context, with what comes next. Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy 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. The narrow gate and the wide gate. The easy path and the hard path. Somehow, modern Christianity has decided that the narrow gate is the sinners prayer, everything else is just extra credit. All we have to do is declare that “Jesus is Lord” one time out loud and BAM! our binary code flipped from a “0” to a “1”, we were out and now we’re in. We’re gonna get to the gates of heaven, have our bar code scanned, and “Yup!!! He said a sinner’s prayer on September 23, 2014! Take him to his mansion!”
Look, I’m not trying to tell you you’re not going to heaven when you die. I’m not saying you don’t have a saving FAITH. But I do know it that Jesus talks about wide gate that is nice and easy, and a narrow gate that HARD to get through. I know we have our Romans Road and our spiritual truths. We’ve been taught them, we teach them, we say them, we live ’em, we learn ’em, we love ’em. But just ask yourself this question – just how hard is it to say a sinners prayer?
I hope this is a revelation to you – the Golden Rule IS the narrow gate. Jesus spoke them together, they go together, they work together.
The Sermon on the Mount is our Christian Constitution. It’s the Law of Christ. Yes, Jesus came and died on the cross, forgiving us our sins as He died. And yes, FAITH in what Jesus did on that cross is what saves us. But guess what…all those red letters in the Bible, those words spoken by Jesus, all that teaching, all the challenges, they are not “extra credit”. “And a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, “This is my beloved Son; listen to him.”” Mark 9:7 ESV. Listen to Jesus. We listen to a lot of voices in this world, Jesus isn’t often one of them.
The Golden Rule and the Narrow Gate, very simply, go together. Jesus and the Sermon on the Mount go together, you can’t have one without the other. “What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.” Mark 10:9 ESV
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” Proverbs 14:12 ESV
“”So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy 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 7:12-14 ESV