Thursday, October 11, 2012

Enter ye in

Jesus taught to enter onto a path.  It's offered to all but the scriptures are not shy about saying that few find it. Straight is the gate and narrow is the way. (Matthew 7:13-14) (Jacob 6:11).

The scriptures in more than a few places say that "few there be that find it".   I wonder all the time why that is. Luke records that even though many seek it, they won't be able to enter in (Luke 13:24).

So why? Is it because people were never even told about it?  How can you enter into something you didn't know about?  That wouldn't seem fair to limit someone because of something they honestly were not exposed to.  Since God is all knowing, all loving, and no respector of persons, I don't believe lack of exposure is why few find it.  But I leave the lack of exposure for another day as I don't currently know how God deals with billions of people and their various levels of exposure to divine teachings.

The concept of only few finding something has a great deal of potential pride about it.  In economic terms this idea instantly elevates the thing.  Since in our culture things that are only found by a few must be super valuable.  If you believe you are select, chosen, and so very superior to all others because you have something I question if the thing you found is what Christ offers.  Christ's offerings don't produce pride and arrogance.  If they do then I question what's really behind it.  This idea of few finding something can be terribly blinding.  If you are taught that you are the "few" do you even have any reason to consider if it's true?  What if you are taught you are the "few" but it's incorrect?  How blinding that would be!  Religious seem especially at risk of this, especially religions claiming to be the only true religion.   

I remember many years ago LDS church leaders assured me that being an active part of the organization and having received the outward ordinance of baptism was equivalent to finding "the path".  I don't believe that is correct.  If that were true than church membership would be a guarantee admission ticket. It isn't. Their reassuring words never did sit right, and looking back, I see why.  It wasn't all the way true.  Years later, by following the Holy Ghost, and my own answers to prayer I find a very different picture.   

The Book of Mormon adds a lot of clarity to the discussion of the path and the narrowness of the way. Nephi says in order to enter in, we must (among other things) keep the commandments, repent, be baptized, and then will come the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. At that point, Nephi says this "And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive." (2 Nephi 31:18)

The last part of that verse is instructive.  "...that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive."   Jesus said "I am the way".  We cannot enter in by following someone else, no matter how popular, sincere, adored, and no matter if people stand when they enter the room. Saying you follow Christ is not helpful unless you actually do what he says and taught.  Following commandments of men does not product the same thing as following Chris.  The doing is what opens up the truth.  But doing what Christ taught.  As contrasted with the endless variety of false religious traditions available at every turn. 

Christ's words make me pause and ask why "few there be that find it"? Aren't God's offerings available to all?  So why, if God makes invitations to all, do only a few find this path? Seems a little pessimistic when there are millions of church members and billions of people who have lived on earth.  A couple personal ponderings below.

Is this statement of Christ more like a description of reality rather than God's desire?  I believe God desires the salvation of His children.  Not just some few of them.  If God desires all to receive, but states that only a few find it, I honestly wonder if this is not so much about God's desire and intent for mankind as it is an unflattering description of us humans and how few people care enough about God to seek Him out and follow what God has revealed.  If there is something special about the "few" it's not in their pride or arrogance or unique lot in life, it's about their humility to receive from God.

Could it be that only a few are willing to really follow Christ? Do the rest prefer to follow men, other causes, charismatic leaders, or worldly philosophies?  Do they prefer the substitutes and deceptions?  I would hope not.  I don't have all the answers to those questions but it's interesting to ponder. 

Nephi prophetically answers some this with some of the major errors that surround us.

They wear stiff necks and high heads; yea, and because of pride, and wickedness, and abominations, and whoredoms, they have all gone astray save it be a few, who are the humble followers of Christ; nevertheless, they are led, that in many instances they do err because they are taught by the precepts of men.  2 Nephi 28:14.

This is sobering.  Even the humble followers of Christ err due to what they are taught.  "all have gone astray".  Christ says few even find the path, and Nephi indicates some big reasons why in 2 Nephi chapter 28.  He's talking to Latter Day Saints even though at present we may be blinded by institutional fluff, or giddy about a change in missionary age.  But Nephi's audience are Mormons who are reading his book.  Not people who will never read it's pages. 

(I like the age change by the way, but I like even more the teachings about how to be one of the few that finds the path Christ speaks of.)  Nephi's words are living.  They are the words of God (2 Nephi 28:1).  Just because Nephi is dead, doesn't mean his words spoken by the power of the Spirit are.

Christ says to "enter ye in".  He wants this, desires this.  But entering in is a decision resting upon the individual.  The pessimistic numbers do not matter. Your heart is what matters.  Our humility.  Our openness to God. Our responsiveness to the still small voice that speaks to everyone.  Pride is common.  Arrogance is common.  Apparently meekness and humility are things only a few are even interested in.  

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