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Is the “Narrow Way” Narrow-minded? (Y1.T1.D38) - Extra


Unsplash; "Franz Nawrath"

 

No. When Jesus encouraged us to enter through the narrow gate in Matthew 7:13–14, he did not tell us to close our minds.


Consider the following description of the term "narrow-minded" from the website AllSides—a news site focused on exposing “people to information and ideas from all sides of the political spectrum”:


Some religious conservatives are happy to claim the term “narrow-minded,” because they connect it to the “narrow path” (or gate or door) mentioned in the Bible as the sole means of salvation. In this view, having a narrow-minded view is not only reasonable but laudable. It is those who lack the courage to fully commit to their beliefs who fall short.


In recent usage, however, the term “narrow-minded” has taken on a nearly universal pejorative slant. It means something close to biased, ignorant, perhaps even delusional. . . . Many conservatives bristle at being called narrow-minded, and point out (quite reasonably) . . . In some liberal bastions, such as certain universities and towns, it’s hard to argue that any historical connection between liberalism and open-mindedness remains.


. . . Many libertarians take “open-mindedness” to a degree that makes many progressives uncomfortable. For example, libertarians are often open to the legalization of all drugs, prostitution, organ sales, doctor-assisted suicide, innovative medical procedures without FDA approval, and so on. From a libertarian perspective, however, progressives are only slightly less narrow-minded than conservatives.


And of course, some people believe that finding a middle ground between the benefits (and perils) of narrow-mindedness and open-mindedness is the best way forward. The joke “Be open-minded, but not so open that your brains fall out” is a common call to moderation in openness to new experiences.


All faiths—including those without a deity—and political affiliations contain narrow-minded people. However, choosing to journey through the narrow gate does not require a person to become narrow-minded. In fact, on closer examination, the narrow way demands the opposite.


When a person chooses Jesus as their “way” of life, they decide to put the love of God over the love of self and elevate loving their neighbor equal to that of self-love.


Therefore, I’m encouraged to consider and respect my neighbor’s differing views. And I can do this without taking a single step off the narrow path.


Jesus is the door to that path. John 10:9 explains it this way: “I am the door. If anyone enters in by me, he will be saved, and will go in and go out, and will find pasture.


I hope you can see the freedom offered in that verse. As a metaphorical sheep, I have access to the promised green pastures (Psalm 23). And because my need for substance and safety are satisfied, I’m better able to meet the demands made by God for those around me.


So the narrow way is not narrow-minded, and it is our job to keep it that way.


Whom the Son Sets Free Is Free Indeed


13 “Enter in by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter in by it. 14 How the gate is narrow and the way is restricted that leads to life! There are who find it. (Matthew 7:13–14)

Matthew 7:3–5, Luke 6:41–42


4 A high look and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, is sin. 5 The plans of the diligent surely

lead to profit; and everyone who is hasty surely

rushes to poverty. 6 Getting treasures by a lying tongue is a fleeting vapor for those who seek death. 7 The violence of the wicked will drive them away, because they refuse to do what is right. 8 The way of the guilty is devious, but the conduct of the innocent is upright.

9 It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop

than to share a house with a contentious woman. 10 The soul of the wicked desires evil; his neighbor finds no mercy in his eyes. 11 When the mocker is punished, the simple gains wisdom. When the wise is instructed, he receives knowledge. 12 The Righteous One considers the house of the wicked, and brings the wicked to ruin.

13 Whoever stops his ears at the cry of the poor, he will also cry out, but shall not be heard. 14 A gift in secret pacifies anger, and a bribe in the cloak, strong wrath. 15 It is joy to the righteous to do justice; but it is a destruction to the workers of iniquity. 16 The man who wanders out of the way of understanding shall rest in the assembly of the departed spirits. 17 He who loves pleasure will be a poor man. He who loves wine and oil won’t be rich. 18 The wicked is a ransom for the righteous, the treacherous for the upright. 19 It is better to dwell in a desert land, than with a contentious and fretful woman. 20 There is precious treasure and oil in the dwelling of the wise; but a foolish man swallows it up.

21 He who follows after righteousness and kindness finds life, righteousness, and honor. 22 A wise man scales the city of the mighty, and brings down the strength of its confidence. 23 Whoever guards his mouth and his tongue keeps his soul from troubles. 24 The proud and arrogant man—“Scoffer” is his name— he works in the arrogance of pride. 25 The desire of the sluggard kills him, for his hands refuse to labor. 26 There are those who covet greedily all day long; but the righteous give and don’t withhold. 27 The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination—

how much more, when he brings it with a wicked mind! 28 A false witness will perish. A man who listens speaks to eternity.

29 A wicked man hardens his face; but as for the upright, he establishes his ways.

30 There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against Yahweh. 31 The horse is prepared for the day of battle; but victory is with Yahweh. (Proverbs 21:4–31)


1 Remind them to be in subjection to rulers and to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, not to be contentious, to be gentle, showing all humility toward all men. 3 For we were also once foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving various lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness of God our Savior and his love toward mankind appeared, 5 not by works of righteousness which we did ourselves, but according to his mercy, he saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us richly, through Jesus Christ our Savior; 7 that being justified by his grace, we might be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 This saying is faithful, and concerning these things I desire that you affirm confidently, so that those who have believed God may be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men; 9 but shun foolish questionings, genealogies, strife, and disputes about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain. 10 Avoid a factious man after a first and second warning, 11 knowing that such a one is perverted and sins, being self-condemned. (Titus 3:1–11)

Meditation Moment


Dear God,


Help me yield my way to You. You promised to open what no one could shut and shut what no one could open (Isaiah 22:22). So open my mind, that I might understand Your Word (Luke 24:45). Open my eyes, that I may see wondrous things out of your law (Psalm 119:18). And shut out the lies and fear that keep me from truly following the golden rule.


Amen.


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