Okay, so this is what I wished I’d said last Sunday. Or maybe this is what the Holy Spirit gave me while Lynn and I were storytelling on Sunday. It’s always a process. The Word is a living thing. Truth is like a river flowing by – always constant and always cooling our naked toes with ever-new waters.
Luke 13 has Jesus spouting off about a whole bunch of things. One of the things he comes to is this image of a Narrow Door.
We didn’t spend any time Sunday talking about the way this passage has been used to try to scare people into heaven’s way. Preachers, trying to get their pew-sitters to conform to their own particular way of being a saved Christian, love this passage.
They offer up their particular path of salvation – which tends to involve – surprise surprise – following the recipe they’re laying out Sunday after Sunday.
Jesus Seminar Scholars would say this passage doesn’t fit with the broad and diverse vision of god’s Kin-dom Jesus is inviting folks into.
Except for one little line tacked onto the end of this disturbing passage.
Jesus says there’ll be a resounding gnashing of teeth when those who were so sure - see the big surprise at the end of the road. We thought we had it right. We thought we were saved. We figured we had all the answers; the right things to say, to believe, to do, to achieve. In our hurry to get it right and get to the front of the righteous line-up….Jesus announces at the end. “The last are first and the first are last.”
There’s two kinds of people in the world. Those who think there’s two kinds of people and those who don’t.
I fell into that trap last Sunday. My version of the two kinds of people theory was “those who think life is all about getting – and those who know it’s all about giving”. I imagined the big getters gnashing their teeth when they discover that “Whoops, I got it all wrong. I should’ve joined the Lions Club after all.”
While this might have been a good Stewardship – pass the plate – sermon, it doesn’t really speak to the fact that both getting and giving are part of the balancing act…
The beauty of the great reversal tacked onto the end of this passage about a Narrow Way is that it creates a perfect conundrum. The more righteous you strive to become – the more you fool yourself into believing your own brand of doctrine.
So, if we ALL fool ourselves with our own personal recipes, theories, doctrines, practices, and philosophies of how best to get thru life – then ain’t that the broad way?
To let go of doctrine. To give up on righteousness. To step off the path in pursuit of good escaping evil. Is to leave the human race and instead become a human be-ing.
What would Jesus do?
“Judge not” he says “for the measure you use to judge others will be used on you.”
When you’re finished trying to think your way into heaven.
When you’re finished trying to fix the world.
When you find that you can’t even fix your own self.
When all you do fails to change a thing.
To imagine the impossible is to invite god’s divine dreaming into the equation.
The Kin-dom of god is like a mustard seed. Perfectly natural. Perfectly miraculous. Not really needing human beings to do its growing thing.
The Kin-dom of god is like the yeast a bakerwoman adds to the dough. This one requires some human effort – but only in cooperation with the magical chemical natural divine order of things.
Whatever the fix you’re in. Whatever problem’s put in your way. Try imagination.
When I stop trying so hard. When I invite the divine imagination to settle into my life’s soil and seed my heart with hope. I pass through a door, from my narrow-minded attempts to see, into a larger place of possibilities.
Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It's a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.
When I see. When I feel the burden that’s become mine – transform into the burden that is shared by us all – then the light of the Christ becomes evident in all things, in all humans, in all this wondrous, awe-full world. It is a light that the darkness in my soul cannot extinguish. It is the light for today’s walk. Not the light of some bright future, but the light of the choices I make today. To give and to receive. To work hard and to rest and play. To love with abandon and to hate with humility. To seek what cannot be found and in the end…
"At the end of all advice, the dishes." Mr Bennett