The Road Less Traveled
Two Sundays ago we considered Jesus’ well-known prohibition against being a condemning people. The judgment we dish out comes back to us in the same manner and measure, so it’s best to deal with your own sin. Yet being a judgment free people doesn’t mean we are free of responsibility, free to do whatever we want. Jesus wants us to walk the hard path of discipleship.
So what is the narrow road less traveled? A temptation is to identify sins that are our pet peeves and personal favorites. A better approach is to pay attention to what Jesus has just been preaching about throughout the Sermon on the Mount, starting with what he says in the verse right before this. “In everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets” (Mt. 7:12). The Golden Rule is love in action. You have to “do something” to “do unto others.” It’s empathy in action. You have to think about others and what they might feel and need.
I know to all of this, some people have said to me in effect: “Here we go again, always talking about love.””That’s a church that just keeps talking about love.” To which I say, I have it on pretty good authority that one with ultimate authority kept boiling down the whole of scripture and the whole of faith to love.
Notice that Jesus does not claim love is easy. The path of true love is the narrow road. The path of putting others first is the narrow road. The path of caring for strangers is the narrow road. The path of being a peacemaker and turning the other cheek is the narrow road. The path of going the extra mile is the narrow road. The path of grace and mercy when it’s so much easier to judge and dismiss is the narrow road. The path of generous giving for those in need instead of selfish greed and accumulation is the narrow road. The way of the cross is the narrow road, but it is also the path of life.