October 3, 2008 - Friday of the 19th Week after Trinity

Daily Lectionary: Deuteronomy 4:1-20; Matthew 7:13-29

Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. (Matthew 7:13)

All religions are basically the same. Bargaining. Transacting with God. Let’s make a deal. Whether it is the god way up there in spiritual heights or the god within our hearts and heads, there is a deal to be struck. We need to tap into God, bribe Him with treats, train Him to do our will. Perhaps it’s not a coincidence that “god” is “dog” spelled backwards. Religion teaches us to treat God like a dog.

That’s the obvious way of religion, the wide gate of popular opinion that says it’s up to us to find God and deal with Him. That way is easy; you don’t need any help finding it. In fact, you’re naturally bent to follow that road, thanks to Adam. Thanks to Adam, we have “become like gods,” and now we’re set on a road to destruction. The last thing a “god” wants or needs is to be saved. Gods don’t need to be saved.

But sinners do. That’s the narrow way, the less obvious way, the way that sets Christianity apart from the religions of this world. We don’t go in search of God, God goes in search of us, seeking us, finding us in His Son, becoming one of us and with us, dying for us. The “narrow gate” is as narrow as one Death on a Good Friday afternoon, one perfect Man hanging dead on a cross who happens to be the Son of God. This is the narrow gate no one is looking for and many reject outright.

Jesus warns against the false prophets, the purveyors of counterfeit religion. You will recognize them by their fruits. Do they produce faith in Jesus or faith in self? Don’t look to miracles. The false prophets have them, too. They prophesy, they do mighty works, they cast out demons, they spout the Name of God, and yet the Lord doesn’t recognize them. Though they worked all these wonders, they are “workers of lawlessness.”

The true teacher and prophet is one who teaches true holiness that is found only in Jesus Christ. He will lead you to Baptism, to the Supper of Christ, and to His Word.

Almighty God, heavenly Father, preserve us from all false doctrine that would distract our faith in Christ, and guide us through the narrow gate of His death and resurrection, for the sake of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.