The Narrow Gate, by Katie Snipes Lancaster
“Make every effort to enter through the narrow gate. Many, I tell you, will try to enter and won’t be able to. Once the owner of the house gets up and shuts the door, then you will stand outside and knock on the door, saying, ‘Lord, open the door for us.’ He will reply, ‘I don’t know you or where you are from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ He will respond, ‘I don’t know you or where you are from. Go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in God’s kingdom, but you yourselves will be thrown out. People will come from east and west, north and south, and sit down to eat in God’s kingdom. Look! Those who are last will be first and those who are first will be last.” Luke 13:24–30
Reflection: Jesus’ followers are worried. They are worried for themselves and for their loved ones. They ask, “are only a few being saved?” Some of us may ask this kind of question at a grand philosophical level, but ultimately we are asking about the nature of God’s mercy, grace, and salvation for us and those we love.
We hear familiar phrases here: narrow gate, knock on the door, weeping and grinding of teeth. We see an answer that looks like, “yes only a few are being saved.” And then in the next sentence we get the expansive communion-table text “people will come from east and west, north and south, and sit down to eat in God’s kingdom” which says there is room, not for exclusion but for welcome. We get the systemically upside-down “the last will be first and the first will be last,” which says the narrow gate is not impossible, just different. What we expected is reversed, overturned, capsized, upended. Let us sit in the discomfort and listen for what God is calling us toward.
Give us your narrow path,
even as your message
reverses our expectations
and upends our well laid plans.