Despairing for the Church: Part 2, And Few Find It

Is a healthy, sane and faithful Christian life exceptional and rare? Jesus seemed to think so, at least in some of his statements. I think about this saying of Jesus a lot:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who go through it. How narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it."
Narrow is the gate and difficult the road that leads to life, and few find it

There is something both frightful and consoling about the line "and few find it." Frightful for obvious reasons. We'd like the path toward the kingdom of God to be a large, obvious, and easy onramp. But perhaps the way to the kingdom isn't so accommodating and accessible. I recall a quote from Flannery O'Connor:
What people don't realize is how much religion costs. They think faith is a big electric blanket, when of course it is the cross. 
And yet, there is a consoling spin to "and few find it," at least for me as I look out with despair upon all that labels itself "Christian." Maybe much of what is "Christian" in the world is actually going through that wide gate and down that broad road on the way toward destruction. Many days it sure seems that way. As Jesus also said in the Sermon on the Mount, "Not everyone who says unto me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven." Not every Christian is a Christian. 

The consolation here, if one can call it that, is the blessing of low expectations. Disappointments are due to our expectations not being met. So perhaps our despair over "the church" might be due to having too high of expectations for what passes as Christian. Perhaps we've been assuming that Christianity is widespread and common when, in fact, it is precious and rare. Perhaps we should hear the words "Christian" and "church" with a lot more skepticism. If Jesus is correct, there are only a few Christians in the world. And if that's true, maybe the train wreck that is "the church" isn't a disappointment but something quite expected.

No comments:

Post a Comment