Monday, December 1, 2008

Just How Narrow IS The Way (Warning: This post may not be popular)

**I am going to go ahead and preface this post by warning you that its contents may offend some people. As a matter of fact, this post may actually cause some of you to delete my blog from your favorites list, but these are thoughts that have been spinning around in my head for some time and it is time that I put them down on paper (well, on computer). If you are offended by these words, ask yourself why you are offended................**

Recently in blog land AND in the real world I have been accused of being narrow minded. I wont lie, there is truth in that accusation. I do tend to see things in black and white and I am vocal about my views. Am I always right? Of course not, but when it comes to spiritual views, I make no apology for being narrow. Yesterday, in his sermon, our pastor reminded us of a very simple truth: Truth is ALWAYS narrow. Doesn't 2 + 2 always equal 4????

Lately, I have been thinking alot about how Christians blend in with the rest of the world. So much so that at times it is hard to tell the difference between a follower of Christ and the God-less. I am sure that satan laughs at how much God's people act like his people. Because, the narrow truth is that you are one or the other....you either belong to satan or to God....according to the Bible, there is no 'in-between'.

We know there is no middle ground when it comes to following Jesus, we are either hot or cold....luke warm will get you spewed out of His mouth, right? Matthew 7:13-14 tells us "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" .Yet, we continue to ask "Just how narrow is the way that leads to life?" Instead of taking Him at His word that the way to righteousness is very narrow, like children, we keep testing the limits to see how far we can go without going to far. I could give you example after example of how we put our hands on the cookie jar and look up at God to see if He will smack our hand or allow us to have the cookie.

As Christians, we are called out of darkness and into the light. We are to put off our old selves. Behold He makes all things new. We are to steer clear of even the appearance of evil, yet you can enter any restaurant and watch those who call themselves Christians drinking the same alcoholic drinks that the rest of the world is drinking. The devil loves for a Christian to give the appearance of evil....and don't we associate alcohol with evil? Drunk drivers, drunken wife /child beaters, etc ,etc.???

Many will argue that in Bible days, the people drank wine.......and it's true, but they drank at least 3 parts water to one part wine, so it wasn't the wine of today. Others would say that Paul urged Timothy to use a little wine to settle his stomach....that is also true, but today we have all sorts of medicines to remedy an upset stomach. And let's be honest, if you use these passages as excuses for drinking, then I have to ask you if you adhere to the Bible in every other instance as you do when it comes to drinking alcohol. See, we Christians love to twist the words of the Bible to suit our own pleasures and trust me, satan loves nothing better than when we twist God's Word in order to justify our sin. How do I know that Christians twist the word of God to suit their own purposes? I have done it myself many times.

As I said earlier, the Bible tells us to stay away from even the appearance of evil. God knew that we would have opportunity after opportunity to ruin our witness just by hanging out in places we shouldn't hang out and doing things that would cause people to question our testimony. Even the Christian now days rarely errs on the side of caution. Fifty years ago, a Christian thought about the appearance of evil and what the rest of the world would think of them if caught in an ungodly place or in a compromised position (a good example is that years ago it was unheard of for a young man to be allowed to be alone with a young woman). Yet today, we think it's okay to go to the R rated movie even though we know there will be cursing and nudity. Many Christians think it's okay to go to bars just to fit in with the crowd, to live with someone that is not your spouse, to cheat the government, to cheat on your wife/husbandto gamble, etc etc. We have forgotten the verse that commands us to do nothing that would cause our brother to stumble. Jesus hung out among the sinners in order to influence them not to fit in with them.

Why do Christians think this way? Because we have "broadened" our minds and in turn taken it upon ourselves to broaden the narrow way. The narrow way has been replaced by complacency to sin, and complacency that remains unchecked will ALWAYS result in spiritual death (and possibly physical death). We have decided that we would rather be popular than good (and that we would rather our kids be popular than good). Unfortunately, what is popular is rarely right. It is as if the emergent church mindset has crept in and taken over even the most conservative. Our deep love of the world has caused us to ask God over and over "Just how narrow IS the gate?", when we should really be asking Him to help us stay STRAIGHT on the path without veering to the right or left.

Might be time to check our relationship with Jesus and ask Him to show you where we are just like the world and where we need to narrow your thinking. The world is always going to call us narrow minded, but the world is not our final judge....Jesus is and the path to Him is very NARROW. At the Rapture, I have a feeling that many who call themselves Christians will be surprised to find that the way was much more narrow than they thought.

30 comments:

jcdisciple said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jcdisciple said...

BTW...these two posts made things rather quiet around my "bloggy" world. In case you missed them this is when the Lord was revealing the same things I think He is revealing to you so heavily right now.

http://onesacrifice.blogspot.com/2008/10/freedom-from-condemnation-compels.html

and

http://onesacrifice.blogspot.com/2008/10/gods-hatred.html

You start preaching on God's hatred and the people start to scatter. (Flipping on that light switch makes the bugs run for cover every time). However, in light of what He saved us from, I don't know how I often try to push the envelope like I do...it's that blindness that gets us from time to time.

Paulette said...

I second your post. No way will I delete you off my sidebar for speaking the truth. And might I say speaking the truth in love.

I truly feel that God is using you to bring forth a message for his people. People who need to truly make a decision to serve sold out for Him or they need to just climb down off the fence and quit pretending.

I totally agree and was just talking to my mother in love the other day about something similar to this. I think there are going to be lots of church goers who are going to find themselves questioning why they ended up in Hell. It's not about religion it's all about relationship.

I say keep bringing on the post that speak the truth. I applaud you Bethanne for stepping up and speaking out on what you stand for. I'm standing right there beside you friend.

Bright Blessings.

jcdisciple said...

If you haven't seen any of the videos I've posted by Paul Washer, you should check them out. He has totally revolutionized my mind to recognizing that it's not only the "gate" that is narrow, but it is also the "path". You want to be told you are narrow and "wrong", suggest that the reason so many so-called "Christians" look like the world is because they ARE the world. Every Sunday when only a few stragglers make their way to the altar, my heart is in agony, wondering how many people are comfortable with a "decision" they made in the past, an "isle" they walked, a "prayer" they prayed, all the while they are as quickly headed down the path to Hell as the man sitting in the bar on Sunday drinking. (Perhaps even faster). This is unpopular thinking and it causes me great anguish and I'm quite honestly horrified to even say it, but something tells me that very soon when the Christian has to choose between having themselves shot for entering the doors of a church building in America or staying comfortably at home watching a more "popular" spiritual program, the need for new buildings might well go away.


A hearty amen to your post today!!

beyond this moment said...

I truly appreciate what you had to say and agree with 99% of it. I think those who call themselves Christians do look too much like the world. However, Jesus was condemned for the same thing. He was seen in a lot of places and with a lot of people that gave the appearance of evil and caused moral people to question His righteousness.

It isn't *always* where we are or what we are doing that defines the state of our soul. Do I think that Jesus would throw back a beer with a barful of drunks if He were here today? Probably not... but I do believe He would more likely be found in a bar than in a church. :::plink, plink::: my two cents.

All of that said, I also believe that standing among the people who are too like the world will be those who are "righteous" and moral (I am NOT suggesting this is you!) - and both will be surprised to learn they missed the point entirely.

BethAnne said...

Beyond This Moment,
I agree that Jesus met people where they were and didnt care to be seen with the sinners.......maybe I didnt make my point very clearly. I do not disagree with witnessing in the bar or brothel like Jesus would have, I do however disagree with Christians frequenting those places out of a desire to fit in with the rest of the world. Sorry if I didnt make that clear ;-)

Amie Mumpower said...

I agree with you Beth, I just can't imagine how a person can go to a church even be active and still think it is ok to drink alcohol even in a social setting. I just don't see how you can justify that it is right or ok.

Mari said...

I'm still here - and I'm not deleting you. I think a lot of Christians do blend in and we all need to be warned about it. I don't think its wrong to have a glass of wine, but you do have to be careful about the amount and the circumstances. If you are somewhere where you can be seen and the situation misconstrued, you shouldn't do it.
I remember my Mom telling us that her Dad used to say "You shouldn't see how close you can get to the line, but how far you can stay away from it". Good advice!

jcdisciple said...

Beth,

I'm sorry, but I didn't think the "alcohol" was the main point of your post, merely an example. To me the issue really isn't the alcohol, but whether or not you love Jesus so much that you would not do ANYTHING that HE says might hinder your ability to be salt and light. In our culture, drinking is considered taboo if you are a Christian and it most definitely can affect your witness, therefore, if you love Jesus MORE than you love YOURSELF AND YOUR PLEASURE, you won't do anything that might hinder your ability to witness. I have actually gone back and forth on this issue personally (and I don't think it is an issue we should slay dragons over), but I always land on the side of what will bring my Jesus the most glory?

I really thought the point of your post had more to do with if we really are converted, if we really "get" what He did for us, then why oh why do we even need to discuss such matters. I just read an article in Voice of the Martyrs about a man who had his throat slashed in Orissa, India and while he lay in the stree gushing with blood and dying, He refused to denounce Christ. The perpetrators left him for dead and he died the next day. I seriously doubt drinking was a big issue to him!!

I'm with you, Beth, I just wish the American church would READ THEIR BIBLES and start loving Jesus MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE. If that would happen, these side issues would be in their proper perspective.

Care to open up any more worms, Beth?? I'm just gettin' started.

LOL!

Amanda

BethAnne said...

Hey Amanda (jcdisciple)! Yep, its a can of worms for sure, but one that has been on my mind for some time. You are right that alcohol is not the point of this post, but an example of how we live like the world and twist the Word to suit our fancies. I agree that alcohol is not a "hill to die on", but like you, I think it is important to ask the question "Is what I am doing bringing glory to God or not?".
I tell ya, I think that we are living in the end times and it's time to get serious and quit playing around with God.......the Lord has been speaking to me lately about dilligence and vigilance........I want to be found with my lamp burning and I feel like He is encouraging me to share what He is teaching me.....it may make some people mad, but maybe it will speak Truth to someone who has become complacent in their walk......thanks for your encouragement. My blogger updater WILL NOT show me when you update your blog....what is UP WITH THAT?????? I did see those videos you talked about in your earlier comment.....good stuff. Thanks!

Mommyluann said...

Well said.....all of it!

And My blogger update won't show when Amanda updates either!

Ms. Trish said...

just to give my two cents worth... or maybe 3 cents...coz this is a lot.

i won't delete you. i love your blog...and i totally agree with what you said...and it ticks me off when i see Christians live a double standard life...

but when i come to God with those thoughts, He never fails to remind me that I have issues and i find myself in other situations that could "compromise" my christianity as well.

please don't get me wrong...i just quit casual drinking a few months ago (casual meaning drinking once every 3 or 4 months of a glass of wine) so i don't drink at all...i don't sleep around...i don't do drugs, don't smoke...so the "BIG" sins are out of the question. but i do lOOOVE my coffee..i love my sweets.. i get angry.. impatient.. get anxious.. doubt.. worry.. i like going out dancing and i do go to clubs 2x a year just to "get away"...i want to get another tattoo of my son's name to redeem my old tattoo's meaning :) and i thought borat was funny even if it was wrong.

reminds me of the passage:
everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial.

drinking too much wine is not good...

acting like a heathen when you call yourself a christian is not good...

swearing is not good...

sleeping around is not good...

worrying about where to get the money for our next bill instead of praying about it is a sin...

tattoos are horrendous coz you hurt yourself (but i want another one)...

eating too much on thanksgiving is pretty bad as well (gluttony)...

chocolate is *sometimes* bad for his temple...

not exercising is even worst...

spending $4 for coffee if we could give it to the poor or to missionaries is bad as well...

coffee is addicting and anything we are addicted to is a sin...how much do you have a day? (i have around 2 and that's controlled) ...

dressing up our dogs when there are children around the world that need those clothes is sinful...

blogging or reading other's blogs when we could be spending time with God is not good as well...

cussing under our breath when someone cuts us off is sinful...

being impatient with our kids when we've had a long day is not a good thing as well...

buying things to splurge on us like a plasma tv, a nice laptop or a nice car when we could just "settle" for okay things and give the money to the less fortunate is pretty bad too.

what about not saying sorry.. thinking how we "deserve" more and how we hesitate to not swallow our non-fattening pride...

we can't pick and choose the bible and "sin bash". we ALL fall short...whether a spirit filled christian or a total heathen...

thank God for His grace. it's only by His grace that we get to walk and stay on that narrow path.

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast." Ephesians 2:8-9

we must all make a choice to continue to hold His hand and walk through life working out our salvation with a humble fear of God.

"continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose." philippians 2:12-13

unfortunately...others choose to let go of His hands of Grace and walk the path with their own strength and therefor fail.

we just have to make that choice daily.

Just how narrow is the gate??
i think it gets narrower for all of us everyday we walk with Him.

be holy because your Father is Holy. 1 peter 1:16

thank God He never chooses to let go of my hand and is forever patient with me.

BethAnne said...

Ms. Trish,
I hope you understand that what I am saying in this post I am saying to myself as well as to anyone who chooses to read it. We all sin (everyday) but that is not what I am talking about here....I am talking about sins that we overlook and hold on to because we love them more than we love the Lord. I am not talking about sins we are actively trying to overcome. My point here is that we (I) need to get serious about our (my) walk which means looking less and less like the world and more and more like Jesus ;-)
Beth

proreviewpc said...

Well said, Ms Beth, I'm PROUD of you. JM

Kelly S. said...

Good post. I was just reading back over my Patriarchs lessons and today I read Genesis 19 when God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Lot's trouble started with a small compromise when he "pitched his tent near Sodom". Then later we see that God has mercy on Lot before He destroys the cities, but unfortunatley his wife is tied to that world and looks back. (ouch) Also, he ends up in a cave with his daughters, and that didn't turn out well either. The point from the lesson was that even when we don't partake in certain lifestyles, we can become so accustomed to sin (and worldly values) that what should be shocking to us is not so bad. We must be intentional about protecting our minds and seeking our Jesus, the Way the Truth and the Life. Thank you Lord.

Satan is seeking to destroy us, let's not help him.

ps. I have a prayer request: my son is having surgery tomorrow...could you remember him please:) thanks

Fran said...

well my my. I love it when you open up the ole can of worms. Its almost 10 and I've got one eye open so I'll not comment specifics.
I just think you are dead on. I'm far from perfect. I just want to love Him with all I have, serve Him where He has me, and share Him with all I can. Bring Him all the glory and praise in ALL things.

Go girl!!

Greg P. said...

Beth, I think you made us all think today. We do have to watch every movement we make and how it is being judged by others.

I have no problem at all with your belief in abstinence from alcohol, but, I will tell you that I occasionally have a drink. Very occasional and never to any impairment or excess. I do not believe we have to totally abstain, but, we have to be responsible and realize we are being observed. It's not the alcohol that it is the sin, it's the way it is misused and abused.

If this gets MY blog deleted from anyone's list of favorites, I'm sorry for that. Yours certainly won't be deleted from mine. I admire the stand you take for Christ.

Ms. Trish said...

no worries...like i said...i totally agree with the heart of your blog...i LOVE it and i wish more people would speak up like that!

trust me it hits home because i have people in my life that i dearly love who say they "love God" and are now directly disobeying Him & living a totally different lifestyle. it hurts like crazy watching them do so... i don't get why they make the choices that they do...if they've known of His love & felt His presence...how can one turn away?

:( i don't know why.

The Brady's said...

This is probably one of my favorite posts by you..Like you said..If you get offended, might ask yourself why?

I think you can tell Christians, and Non-Christians by the fruit they bear...

I dont judge anyone..I know only my heart..but we will all stand accountable for the things we do, and the things we don't do..and Yes The Path will very narrow, and little too narrow for some...

nothingcanseparateme said...

Bethanne,

You have "stirred" my soul!! It is a daily, actually minute by minute awareness of our actions and how the unbeliever sees us. Not that we care what they think but that we represent and look like Christ in all that we do and say.

I have so much work to do for myself and to openly "confront" those believers in my life when they are "off the path".

There have been so many good thoughts added to your comments--just so much to think about and pray about.

I will NOT be deleting you from by blogroll!

blessings,
Kim

Cassie said...

Something to make us all think...For sure....The part you said about we would rather our children be popular than good...That is so true in our society today...I was telling Ian the other day...Popularity at school seems so important at the stage of life that he is in...But when we are standing before God...He isn't going to be concerned about how popular we were in the 6th grade...He will remember the times we stood for what was right, or the times that we shared Him with others. Those are the things we need to be concerned with...Not what others think of us. It is so much easier for me to say this now, in my 30's. We live and learn. I used to care about what others thought, and wanted to "fit in"...Now, I understand that "fitting in" is of the world. God wants us to be "different" and always put Him first...in all that we do...I rambled on and on...but I agree with you...The only way to stay on the narrow path...is to continuously be in prayer...Our God is amazing...and continues to show me this daily....Thanks for standing up for Him....=)

ocean mommy said...

AMEN! Girl..this post is good. This sounds like a conversation I had last weekend...either be hot or cold, quit staying in the middle!

Love you and love your boldness. :)

steph.

Fran said...

Just a word of encouragement...

GO BETH GO BETH GO BETH!!! You Rock!

Sandi Hixson said...

great post Beth!

no deletion here! ;-)

Cheryl said...

well said!!!

I'm with you all the way!

gantgarner said...

Well,I guess I will make my first contribution to the Shout Out!

Here we go. While the path to Life is a narrow one (meaning He is it), God's availability to all is wide. It is an amazing thing. God places no prerequisite upon entering and places no post-requisite upon staying. That is amazing (I say that a lot). In lieu of becoming an unpopular commentator, the goal of "Christianity" is not to sin a little as possible, yet that is the goal we have set for people. The truth is the absence of what we could call sinful behavior does not equate itself to the presence of God in the life of a person. I have encountered some very moral and "spiritual" yet uncaring and unloving people. Bottom line, God created us for relationship. When asked about eternal life by a religious expert, Jesus asked the question "What does the law of Moses say". He said "Love the Lord your God with heart, soul, strength, AND your neighbor as yourself". Jesus replies, "RIGHT! Do this and you will live".

The challenge is we have no idea how to relate to failure, and the church has isolated itself from the very world that so desperately needs the Love eternal life entails. The problem Beth isn't simply the broadening of the mind, but the narrowing of the heart. We follow religious duty and what we think is expected of us in the eyes of others and we use it to justify not engaging and caring for those we would call "unchristian". What we call great travesties in the life of David wasn't David's "greatest" sin (if you will) in the eyes of God...it was David taking a census and counting of the men because pride and lack of trust had entered his relationship with God.

You know my junk better than most. Half my friends struggle with the gay and lesbian lifestyle, struggle with alcohol, drugs, porn, sexual addiction, and all the stuff we label and they are believers. But...their hearts!!!!! Their hearts are not cold! They pursue God and others in the midst of their failure. In the midst of the life of David, God said He was a man after his own heart!

Jesus had the "worst" reputation of His day! I get frustrated when church folk are more concerned about their "reputation" or "testimony" than they are about what God said was the bottom line.

To address your question, "Why do Christians think this way?" Here it is...because we don't trust God to meet the emptiness and deficits of our own lives. If we did, we wouldn't grasp for something else. And that applies to every area of our life. Mandisa was right in her song, Voice of a Savior.

Narrow is the road, but WIDE are His arms for anyone and everyone. Narrow have our hearts become, and those have taken notice. My Pastor said it well, "Love the sinner....and hate our sin".

Ok, I said my piece and don't want to take up your entire blog.

Love your passion and heart Beth!

KrisinTN said...

WOW! I love your post! My parents always told us in anything we do to not let our Good be Evil spoken of. I wouldn't go in a bar to witness because what if someone saw me going in to that bar. They wouldn't know that I was going in to witness, they would think I was going in to drink & party. I know that I am not perfect, but I do try to live a life without sin. I do make mistakes but when I realize I make a mistake I ask God to forgive me, and I don't make the same mistake again. My desire is not to be just righteous but HOLY, and I think to be Holy then you must abstain from any type of sin.

Ms. Trish said...

maryanne left you a comment but left it on my blog. LOL :)

check out hope on skid row and read her comment! :)

Eddie said...

Well, even though I've been out of commission for several days, I just have to say a few words. I've read many of the comments concerning this particular blog and I feel that many got it and some didn't. If I were asking the question, I would probably ask it like this; Why do Christians feel like they have to blend in to this world. Jesus said he is not of this world. I agree that we all have sinned and fallen very short of our eternal example. I didn't see that as the question. Many times I believe that we use the term, "We all are sinners" and no doubt about it, but it's almost as if we try to justify why I continue in that particular sin. You see, I can't say that your sin is worse than mine,because I'm not the sin judge. Jesus is! His Word is what we have to go by and not what I think or what you think. Sin is sin and you and I can 't make it not sin. Never forget, that the very best that you and I are looks like filfy rags when compared to our Savior. That in it's self should humble each of us to stop the stinking thinking and just obey HIs word.

alliekat said...

I definitely agree that some of the commentors got it and others didn't. I think the main point of this blog is that quite often our tolerance has gone too far. We definitely should hate the sin and love the sinner but too often we tolerate the sin to the point of accepting it as acceptable behavior. The Bible clearly says that Christians are to be a peculiar people which means we should be different. We can argue all day over legalistic topics, alcohol, tattoos, etc. Like it or not, there are just some things that are "worldly" (associated with the world) things. These are things that non-christians (the world) does, participates in, encourages.... In order to be a "peculiar people", Christians should not participate in the same things as non-christians. In short, if we participate then there is no difference in the christian and the world.