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The Road Less Traveled

• Greg Boyd

In this sermon, Greg address the differences between the wide and the narrow ways, and explains how we can embrace the life that comes with the narrow path.

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In this sermon, Greg offers a brief explanation of Matthew 7:12, which speaks about doing to others as you would have them do to you. This is one of the most famous statements in the Bible, and is also found in many other religions.

The primary emphasis of the sermon lays on the teaching regarding the two ways from Matthew 7:13-14. There are two paths, one that is wide and easy and the other difficult. The narrow way is the way of walking with the person of Jesus. Jesus is the only way, truth and life. However, if all other roads lead to destruction, then this sounds profoundly unfair and unloving. Traditionally though, this is what the church has taught. But we must be honest, how loving is it to condemn someone to destruction when they have never had the opportunity to hear about the way of Jesus?

As we discussed a few weeks ago, 1 Corinthians 15:21-22 tells us that all of humanity is made alive in Christ. While most don’t know it, all humans are part of a new creation, a new humanity, reconciled to God and to one another.

God’s end game in changing everyone’s status on the cross was to have everyone living for Christ and thereby acquiring a Christ-like, other-oriented loving character. But God cannot force people to accept this truth. It must be received.

This leads us to this question: If the cross changed everyone’s default from being dead in Adam to alive in Christ, why did Jesus say that the road to salvation was narrow and few find it, while to road to destruction is wide, and many find it? How do we reconcile these seemingly conflicting teachings?

The teachings that as all were in Adam, so all are now in Christ, only conflicts with Jesus’ teaching that few choose to walk the narrow, hard road that leads to life if Jesus is speaking about people’s final state of affairs when he says the wide road leads to destruction. God brings destruction on people for the purpose of redeeming them. The most radical example of this is found in Revelation 19.

In Matthew 7:14-15, Jesus is saying the way to find eternal life here and now is narrow and hard because it involves following Jesus and striving to develop a Christ-like character. All on this road begin to fulfill Paul’s teaching that Jesus died for all, so that we might live for him. But most people, here and now, would rather live life with the goal of having their best and most convenient life, rather than arduously striving to develop a loving character. This road leads to destruction because whatever about us that is inconsistent with God’s love and truth has got to be destroyed so that we can live for Christ and reflect his love in the eternal Kingdom.

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Topics: Discipleship, Love

Sermon Series: Sermon on the Mount, The Two Ways

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The MuseCast: November 13

Focus Scripture:

  • Matthew 7:13-14

    Enter through the narrow gate, for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.

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4 thoughts on “The Road Less Traveled

  1. Jerry says:

    I concur with Greg: “Travel Hazards’ and “The Path is a Person” were fantastic!

    I’ve been looking at this book: “The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry” – by John Mark Comer and wanted to share some ideas that I believe connect with the current series.

    Surviving but not thriving by being overwhelmed overcommitted overexposed and over-processing appears to be the pattern of this world.

    Ego depletion disrupts the peace, joy, and rhythm in the inner depths of one’s soul.

    From science, the cingulate cortex, residing within the medial surface of the cerebral hemisphere, experiences a slowdown where folks are more likely to do things that they would not normally do.

    The ‘load’ of life is hard. It is an inward condition of the soul.

    Matt 11:28-30 come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

    Yoke – A rabbi’s reading, understanding, and application of the Torah to one’s life.

    For folk listening to Jesus, at that time, the yoke of the law was heavy, burdensome, 600+ commands, and impossible to live up to.

    Jesus came into this world to establish a brand new way for people to be connected to God not by law-keeping but by a relationship established by grace.

    In a relationship, you walk with another person.

    There is no way of escaping the ‘load’ of life because life is hard. The invitation of Jesus was not to make life easier but to make the burden and the load lighter.

    When farmers had yoke’s they would put a smaller, less experienced, ox with a larger stronger one who would set the pace for the more miniature ox and, in so doing, increase the capacity, set the right course, and shoulder more of the weight so they together could finish the task.

    From John Mark Comer’s book: “People all over the world – outside the church and in – are looking for an escape, a way out from under the crushing weight of life this side of Eden. But there is no escaping it. The best the world can offer is a temporary distraction to delay the inevitable or deny the inescapable. That’s why Jesus doesn’t offer us an escape. He offers us something far better: ‘equipment’. He offers his apprentices a whole new way to bare the weight of our humanity with ease at his side. Like two oxen in a field, tied shoulder to shoulder with Jesus doing all the lifting at his pace, slow, unhurried, present in the moment, full of love, joy, and peace”.

    Your soul is best when you come to rest in Jesus. When your surrender your life you also surrender your load and just walk with Jesus. No longer striving alone, working alone, navigating the complexity of life alone, or betting on any way of living to lead you to the fulfillment you desire other than what Jesus can offer by following him.

    Jesus is not inviting us into the water cooler of heaven for a little pep talk and then sending us back out saying call me if you need anything. Jesus is inviting us to discipleship: to follow, walk and learn from him. Spending time with him learning his ways, his rhythms, and his priorities so that we can rest in his grace and he promises to shoulder and bare the weight as we learn a brand new way to shoulder the weight of life.

    You will be yoked to something so if you don’t yoke with Jesus, while you are still on the road, what might be the future condition of your soul?

  2. Dan says:

    Good thoughts, Jerry. I’ve heard great things about Comer’s book.

    Dan Kent

  3. Tina says:

    Thank you for your comments, and especially for the image of being in the yoke with Christ. I will keep it in mind to remind me that Jesus is always next to me, lifting my load and guiding me through life, if I will only trust him.

  4. Jerry says:

    Thank you Dan and Tina!

    The name of Comer’s book comes from a conversation between John Ortberg and Dallas Willard.

    John calls Willard and asks, “What do I need to do to become the person I want to be?

    There’s a long silence on the other end of the line … then: “You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

    John then asks “Okay, what else?”

    Another long silence … then Willard: “There is nothing else. Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.”

    John Ortberg tells a story about an old man who is the keeper of the streams that run through a town. The town decides to get rid of the old man, so the springs go unattended. The streams gathered twigs and branches. Soon there is lots of mud and silt. Fish died, swans flew elsewhere and people got sick. The life of the village depended on the stream. The life of the stream depended on the keeper. So the village hired back the keeper and over time things returned back to normal. The life of the village depended on the health of the stream. The stream in your soul and you, [with the help of the old man], are the keepers.

    You can’t be the keeper of your soul on your own. Using Romans 12:2, as the pattern for this ongoing process, this soul work can only happen as you yoke with Jesus.

    “All my worst moments … are when I’m in a hurry.” “Love, joy, and peace … are incompatible with hurry. The average iPhone user touches his or her phone 2,617 times a day. What would my life be like if God touched my mind as frequently as I touch my phone?” – John Ortberg

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