The Discomforts and the Delights of the Narrow Gate—Part Three
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matthew 7:13—NIV).
The Wide Gate and Broad Road: The Mixed Blessings of Living in a Culture of Comfort
In my book, “The Weeping, the Window, the Way” (Preface, Chapter 7), I offer what first arose in my heart as an “aha insight” into a dilemma. However, after simmering in my spirit for just a little while, the issue grew into a quagmire so vital and complicated that it might be better described as a burden—that includes both a deep pain and a high promise of my temporal and eternal life: “the mixed blessings of living in a culture of comfort”.
“Today, the very dynamic God has designed to providentially, paradoxically, and mercifully use suffering to transform our heart is being avoided like the plague. The dilemma is that we are, at least in “Westernized Christianity”, “Christians living in a culture of comfort”. More than anything, we hate all things UNcomfortable, especially the heart-transformation offered by God amidst of suffering. As we stay put in our times of suffering, the Holy Spirit can work to sanctify, purify, and make us holy. And more wholly devoted to God as our hearts most desire we be. In many ways, we are plagued by our comforts. Our conscious and unconscious pervasiveness towards avoiding all things discomforting is akin to picturing a beautiful fruit tree trying to avoid being pruned: it will quickly become unfruitful. As we will see later in the book, this truth has dire consequences of all sorts.”
“The greatest challenge in facing the increasingly pervasive spiritual-emotional wounds that are passed down from generation to generation is that we now have a tendency to harden and hide our hearts. We avoid the vulnerability to further pain and discomfort. So much so that we have created a multitude of “alternative pains” to avoid the primary “joy-filled pain” involved in revealing the heart of our hearts—to be spiritually and emotionally naked AND unashamed.” (WWW, pp 16-17—emphasis added)
The implications of “Christians living in a culture of comfort” are deep and wide. Please read Chapter 7 of my book, “Recoiling: Recognizing the Implications of the Heart “Living in a Culture of Comfort”. Why? It offers a vitally important perspective about God, our own hearts, and “the heart of our cultural dilemma”… born from the individual heart having hidden and hardened for any period of time.
Please Beware of the Heart Wonting for Worldliness
The Bible’s slant on “Christians living in a culture of comfort” is best described as the repeated warnings about worldliness. Please spend some time during this meal at The Training Table, and more, meditating on the following Bible passages about worldliness.
Consider why God spent so much of His heart reminding, exhorting, warning, encouraging, commending, and loving us around this issue: “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23).
The best guard against worldliness is godliness—or Christ-likeness. What characterizes a Christian? The apostle Paul tells us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
Amongst other things, “the fruits of the spirit” are inculcated by how we treat our times of unavoidable suffering. Please remind yourself of “God’s protocol for sanctified suffering” we looked at in this series, and in my book. Don’t do it alone.
Until we enjoy a feast at The Training Table again, may God richly bless you with opportunities to choose between the broad road and the narrow gate—as long as we have a heartbeat, the choice and rewards will abound within you SO THAT it will abound in Christ-likenesss in the world.