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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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6 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?

    1. Joan says:

      Asking the good questions is an important way to invite ones wise processing and sorting.

      1. Jerry says:

        Joan: Great thought!!!

        Processing and sorting kind of computer terminology.

        Some ideas from Greg and Al’s course Theo-synergistic Neuro-Transformation.

        The brain like a computer is composed of hardware and software.

        SOFTWARE programs what and how to do [strategies, filter information, META BELIEFS]

        OPERATING SYSTEM interface between [manages and controls using VAKOG and SORTING SYSTEMS]

        HARDWARE central processing unit [wet wiring, neurons, chemicals, electrical impulses, memory (storage-retrieval-display)]

        META BELIEFS:

        IDENTITY – That I am in a relationship with the world, others, God, and myself.

        CAPABILITY – What I am able/not able. Can/can’t do. What I believe my limits and possibilities are. – (I’m not able to be loved or all things are possible through Jesus)

        LIFE’S MISSION – Why and how I interact, global generalizations about my relationship with the world, others, and self – (Life is hard and then I die or Romans 8:28)

        MORAL VALUES – Ideals, morals, social do’s and don’ts – (Look out for yourself or Galatians 5:22-23)

        ENVIRONMENT (contextually specific) – Where, how, and why it works or not, what we react to, our surroundings, and other people we meet. Philippians 4:11-13

        ATTITUDES – Mindset, fixed mental attitude, resulting from the combination of beliefs that we carry with us everywhere we go. An attitude is a pervasive powerful subprogram. A mood is situational and short in duration.

        SPIRITUAL – God has wired a knowing of His existence within us. Romans 1:18-31 – They are the highest level of beliefs that affect all other beliefs.

        There are four major ways that beliefs are installed
        1. Modeling and observing what you see happening and believe it as truth
        2. Vicarious traumatization experience as it happens to you, never happened but fear entered and the belief gets locked in, witness via story/movie, etc. a truth
        3. Experientially traumatic as well as nurturing events (good or bad)
        4. Direct Installation “You are stupid” Nothing is installed until you accept it and say it to yourself. Directly told the truth by someone who you think is credible.

        SORTING SYSTEMS:

        Seven methods of managing (perceiving, filtering, and acting) on brain-stored information give direction to the brain to delete, distort, and generalize information based on the seven categories of META BELIEFS.

        They are contextually dependent by domain (job, friend, etc…), by majority in continuum (by exceptions at extremes), they differ according to (internal state, external context, and specific emotional experience) and with individual preferences.

        Mental habits of sorting help us remain consistent and dependable. They are the OPERATING SYSTEM in the computer analogy and correlate with the reticular activating system mentioned in a comment I made on Greg’s sermon “Gods-perfect-peace”.

        SAME (most people) attend to information based on what’s already stored: resist change, draw people to agreement, and in a conversation will notice things similar to what they already think. Dreamers and barnstormers, overlook potential problems and difficulties.

        DIFFERENCE attends to information based on upon the differences to what’s already stored: asks what’s off, wrong, different, or missing.

        IN TIME immediate involvement or concern: lost in the moment, enjoys whatever doing, get so involved they are late, great to take a vacation with, bad planners, don’t know how long it takes to go from here to there – so always late. Mid-Eastern people are in time, more associated with where they are.

        THROUGH TIME future involvement or concern: leave meeting (mentally) when they get there, two minute showers, only late when the list is too long, tend to be dissociated from where their presence is (our western culture demands this), and needs to develop present time consciousness.

        We learn from experience that A equals B. If I fall down I get hurt and I feel pain. We know that there is a direct relationship between gravity and our bodies. An equal gravity force that insists that we hit the ground. Hitting the ground hurts so we through association and consistency, pair the two laws of falling and hurting together.

        Studies show that 60% of young adults graduating from high school do not know cause and effect. They do not realize they if they do x then y will happen. If they do not do x, y does not happen but z will happen. This happens in a world of instant gratification and association because they remain in a subconscious, first-position state of existence in relation to the perceptual positions.

        SELF-based on needs and wants of self: In their formative years by not being taken care of learned to take care of themselves. As an adult must now learn to sort by others. They have Impactions in relationships when sort by self to an extreme. Happy when someone serves them.

        OTHERS based on needs and wants of others: peacemakers pick sort by self people in relationships, not happy when severed.

        MOVE TOWARD in the direction of what they want to happen: up out of bed. Think about what they want to do, want to have, and how much they get to do. Move toward preachers give sermons on grace, love, and heaven. Accept Jesus and you get to go to heaven. Capitalism is a move toward strategy (reward system).

        MOVE AWAY opposite direction of what they don’t want to happen: move away from loss, I can’t go if I don’t, have a voice inside my head loudly saying “You have to get up or else, and do it now!” Negotiate with themselves “If I don’t do this I won’t get…” “Just keep at it or you will not be able…” Move away preachers give sermons on hell and loss. You must accept Jesus or you will go to hell. Communism is a move-away strategy.

        From Joan: “Asking the GOOD QUESTIONS is an important way to invite ones WISE processing and sorting”.

        WISE fruit of the spirit Gal 5:12 and 7 pillars of wisdom Proverbs 7:12 versus toxic thoughts:

        Words give (create) existence (matter, energy) to things in the nervous system called beliefs. To heal, one must change their belief and most often learn new skills.

        The Learning Process States of Competence:

        As you doubt a belief, change can begin to happen as you gain another belief. Most of the time when you are changing you are going from the prior reflective competence to the new conscious competence. If feels uncomfortable. Most people do not allow themselves to live through this period. This is what people are trying to say when you hear: “Change is hard; no one likes to change, etc.”

        When you take a thought captive, there is still a pull within because you have been doing it for so long. Subconscious competence is extremely efficient and is by far the easiest thing to keep doing. You need to be very determined to change. You have been so good at doing X even though it has caused you pain. It is all you currently know how to do and it protects you in some way. There are some places that will take diligence and tremendous determination. Proverbs 4:23 [mind-soul connection]

        ENTER/OPERATE/EXIT STRATEGIES

        GOOD QUESTIONS a pattern-interrupt is what you use to exit a thought process
        • It interrupts internal thoughts and external speaking.
        • It is breaking a habitual pattern before it is completed
        • It breaks a thought and starts a new one.

        When a person exits (pattern interrupt) it becomes possible to find the purpose of … examples:
        • CONFUSED alerts you to exit what you do not know and to seek and enter clarity; confusion is the doorway to a new understanding
        • FRUSTRATED alerts you that what is currently happening is not working and to exit immediately and enter Godly wisdom
        • OVERWHELM stop what you are doing, step back, reorganize, change priorities and then continue

  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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