“There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.” -Proverbs 14:12 (NKJV)
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. -Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)
In my last post, I talked about how I watched my father slip away, and that only he and God knew which path he took. I had presented him with the Good News just the day before, which was the last time I saw him conscious.
When belief systems collide
As the oldest son and lone Christ follower in a mostly Buddhist family, I knew what was looming: the ancestor worship ceremony in a Buddhist temple, with my mother and siblings front and center before a large crowd of mourners. Monks would be chanting, and lots of incense would be burned and offered up to ancestors, along with food for them in the afterlife.
Two commandments come to mind: that we are to have no other gods before our God; and that we are to honor our parents. I am prayerfully asking God and fellow agents for guidance on how to proceed, hoping there is some graceful medium where I can pay my respects for my father, but not dishonor the Lord. I know that standing up will result in serious short-term and long-term friction.
In truth, how I feel is I want to run and hide. I don’t want to deal with any of this. I don’t like confrontation. But believers don’t live by how we feel, but how God has commanded us to live. We are to be unashamed of the gospel. He presents this time as an opportunity to honor Him before men…even in the temples of other gods and belief systems. Confrontation is imminent.
It helped me to think of it another way: If my son were a devout Muslim, I would not expect him to come into my church and worship the Holy Trinity, which would be blasphemy to him. It would not be sufficient for me to say, “Just go through the motions because you don’t believe it anyway. Just do it for me.” Why bother with religious convictions at all, then?
Only one road passes through the narrow gate
This agent does not ascribe to the universalist view that all gods are okay, and that all roads lead to God. Was Jesus lying when He said the only way to the Father was through Him? Of course not. Jesus is God’s inerrant Word incarnate. Why would He even bother talking about the narrow gate, if everybody and anybody could take whatever gate they choose into heaven?
The hard road is the one with the richest reward at its end. And part of that hard road is obedience to the Lord above all, even when it’s not convenient or comfortable. Even if it means being shunned and condemned by family.
Being cafeteria Christians is too easy, picking and choosing what only what we want to fit our comfort level. God doesn’t call us to go the easy route. He calls us to make Him known before men…and you can see the heat that followers of God endured throughout Scripture. Early Christians lived inside of pagan cultures, and were persecuted for sticking to their guns.
There is immense pressure to conform, to compromise and alter your belief system so that everyone can get along harmoniously. But the gospel is truly offensive to the world because it makes its followers like nails sticking up that are begging to be hammered down.
In today’s “you’re okay, I’m okay, everyone is okay” (as long as we all compromise) world, Jesus calls us to drop everything and follow Him…not do whatever we feel is comfortable, but do what is right and God-honoring. His standard, not ours or the world’s. And when we follow Him and His standard, we can completely trust that He’s flanking us the whole way.