Psalm 23:3 reads, in effect, “God helps and guides me along the paths that are best for me.” Note that it doesn’t say, “God will make me…” We choose to follow the guide, or we choose not to. That isn’t all that comforting, especially as we look around us. Free will is the ability to choose the wrong path.
Jesus said, “Go in through the narrow gate. The gate that leads to destruction is broad and the road wide, so many people enter through it. 14 But the gate that leads to life is narrow and the road difficult, so few people find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14) In today’s plethora of choice, it might be rewritten to say, “there are plenty of roads to choose, many of which are attractive, fun, enjoyable, and scratch our itches. However, the road to True Life is hard to find among all the options, and there is very little on the road that makes it attractive for the world to follow.” Or you could say that the “narrow road” is a one-lane road, and the broad road is an 8-billion+ lane one.
The Church and its people, however, still remain too attracted to the “ways of the nations” and the “signs in the sky” (Jeremiah 10:2). Regardless of political affiliation or social justice issues or a myriad of other things, the Church gets distracted very easily. Now, this is not to say that the issues that the world face are not our concern. Quite the contrary. We are to look to Christ first so that we are equipped to bring light, hope, love, and reconciliation. Instead, we look to politics and the talking heads that speak of the issues of the world to guide us. This crosses (pun intended) all political and other ideological lines.
What also comes of this is our inheritance. There just might be a reason why God speaks through Jeremiah of the unique inheritance of the descendants of Jacob. We are those spiritual descendants (not necessarily of blood), so we should be paying attention, too. Our inheritance is not the world’s, and for that, we should be thankful! If our inheritance is from God, it seems reasonable to not want any other inheritance.
The deception is that in the world we see a “shadow” of Jesus. All of Creation was made through him and for him (Colossians 1:16). This means that it is easy to be deceived, or deceive ourselves, that we are following the right path for even the wrong paths have a shadow of Jesus. The skeptic (or the hopeful) might suggest this means that all paths lead to Jesus. Your shadow is an imperfect image of you that changes depending on the direction of the light source and the type of light source. It isn’t really you, just as the shadows of the world might look at times like Jesus, they really aren’t.
- What tensions do you see with Jesus loving the world, and the shadows of the world that may appear to look like Jesus?
- What are some current issues/concerns of the world that appear to look like Jesus? How might those same issues not be like Jesus?
Jesus, stir in our hearts to claim and to share the inheritance that rust and moths cannot destroy. Amen.