“The thing I believed most then, the things I believe most now, are the things called fairy tales,” wrote G. K. Chesterton.
“I read them (fairy tales) openly,” wrote C. S. Lewis. “When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
When you were young, did you dream of other worlds and perhaps a magic gate or door through which you entered?
In the Chronicles of Narnia, the children entered through a wardrobe.
In Alice in Wonderland, Alice falls down a rabbit hole and finds a little door behind a curtain.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus keeps talking about a kingdom that’s coming but is already at hand—it sounds wonderful and filled with life. But how do you enter?
Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it (the door) will be opened to you,” says Jesus. “…If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! … So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is [broad] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard [crushing] that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
That started so well and became rather terrifying.
We ought to ask: “How few find it? How hard is the way? How narrow is the gate?
We assume: “Pretty narrow. Fairly hard. And out of 7 billion, relatively few.”
We assume that we better get more knowledge and work harder, for the gate is narrow!
“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, this is the Law and the Prophets.”
That sounds nice, but if I really did that—loved others unconsciously, freely, and without trying as I love myself—I’d end up dirt poor and probably crucified on a tree.
Israel utterly failed at obeying the Law, and the prophets then prophesied the utter destruction of not just Jerusalem and Israel, but of the whole world.
In the words of St. Paul and King David, “None is righteous… no one understands; no one seeks for God… no one does good, not even one” (Romans 3:10-12, Psalm 14 and 53).
So how few find the gate? Well, it sounds like… none.
How many are led to destruction? Looks like… all.
How narrow is the gate (or “door,” as Luke records Jesus saying), and how hard the way?
In the Gospel of John, Jesus says, “I am the door of the sheep… I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he’ll no longer be lost (or “destroyed”—“lost” and “destroyed” are the same word in Greek). To doubting Thomas, Jesus says, “I am the way.”
So, the way is narrow; it’s about as wide as a manger, the arms of a cross, or the walls of the tomb in the garden where Jesus was buried.
And the way is “hard,” literally “crushing”—it crushes the ego like a grape of wrath; it cuts us down to size. We die with Christ and rise with Christ.
The Way is profoundly narrow… and yet the Way gets around.
Religious folks love to say, “Jesus is the only way” (and he is), but then they say, “That means praying this prayer, joining our church, and holding the right doctrine.”
They talk as if Jesus was dead, and they kept him in a box, coffin, ark, or book.
They talk as if Jesus was simply knowledge of good and evil—the law.
Paul wrote: “This knowledge puffs up… but if anyone loves God, he is known by God.”
Well, no matter what, we’re still commanded to enter by the narrow gate, and “puffing yourself up with knowledge” might be a very poor strategy for “entering.”
“Few are those that find it.” Perhaps the few is none. Or perhaps the few is one—the One, who is the Way—and finds us, just as he found those on the hillside that day.
And perhaps the few is “the small.” “Few” (oligos), small, are those who enter.
Alice must grow small to enter Wonderland.
The little door behind the curtain instructs Alice to eat and drink the items on the table labeled: “Eat me” and “Drink me.” It makes her big in one way but so small in another; then she floats through the keyhole on a river of tears.
To drink the wine crucifies the ego.
And yet, to eat the bread reminds us that he gives us himself and all things with him.
Everything is Grace in Wonderland.
Only the children can enter Narnia.
“Unless you become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven,” says Jesus.
And that’s the problem: We all want to grow up, and we find it near impossible to grow down. Actually, that’s when we’re least like children and most “childish”: when we insist on being adults—adults who “know” and don’t “ask.” And so, as Paul writes and David prophecies, “No one seeks; no one asks.”
It must be the real you that asks, not the imposter, not the false self, not the one described on your resume—that’s the person that the Master “does not know” because that person doesn’t exist. But “…the one who seeks finds,” says Jesus, “and to the one who knocks it will be opened.”
Hey… Jesus seeks—He came “to seek and to save the lost.” Do you suppose he finds?
And if Jesus knocked, would it be opened?
“He humbled himself …to the point of death on a cross” and “delivered up his Spirit.” “God has sent the spirit of his son, into our hearts crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” “He… descended into the lower parts of the earth” and “ascended far above the heavens that he might fill all things.” It’s His Spirit in you, “Christ in you, the hope of Glory,” that causes you to get up and open the door. And who’s at the door? “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” says Jesus, “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” That’s Wonderland… Anything else is outer darkness.
Don’t puff yourself up with religion.
Let the Word of God humble you… and then ask, “Abba Father, may I have your Kingdom?”
And don’t be proud; be grateful. You were lost and have been found…by the Way.