Wednesday (October 26):  Do Not Risk Being Shut Out

Meditation: What does the image of a door say to us about the kingdom of God? Jesus' story about the door being shut to those who come too late suggests they had offended their host and deserved to be excluded. It was customary for teachers in Jesus' time to close the door on tardy students and not allow them back for a whole week in order to teach them a lesson in discipline and faithfulness.

Who will be invited to enter God's kingdom?
Jesus told this story in response to the question of who will make it to heaven - to God's kingdom of everlasting peace and eternal life. Many rabbis held that all Israel would be saved and gain entry into God's kingdom, except for a few blatant sinners who excluded themselves! After all, they were specially chosen by God when he established a covenant relationship with them.

Jesus surprised his listeners by saying that one's membership as a people who have entered into a covenant relationship with God does not automatically mean entry into the everlasting kingdom of God. Second, Jesus asserts that many from the Gentile (non-Jewish) nations would enter God's kingdom. God's invitation is open to Jew and Gentile alike.

Jesus is the door to the kingdom of heaven
But Jesus warns that we can be excluded if we do not strive to enter by the narrow door . What did Jesus mean by this expression? The door which Jesus had in mind was himself. I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved (John 10:9). God sent his only begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to open the way for us to have full access to the throne of God's grace (his favor and blessing) and mercy (his pardon for our sins). Through Jesus' victory on the cross he has freed us from slavery to sin and hurtful desires and addictions, and he has made us sons and daughters of God and citizens of his heavenly kingdom. We are free now to choose which kingdom we will serve - the kingdom of light and truth ruled by God's justice and wisdom or the kingdom of darkness and falsehood ruled by Satan and a world system or society of people who are opposed to God and his laws.

Following the Lord requires effort and commitment on our part
If we want to enter God's kingdom and receive our full inheritance which is stored up for us in heaven, then we must follow the Lord Jesus in his way of the cross through a willing renunciation of our own will for his will - our own life for his life - our own way for his way.

Why did Jesus say we must strive to enter his kingdom of righteousness and peace? The word strive can also be translated as agony . To enter the kingdom of God we must struggle against every force or power of opposition - even the temptation to remain indifferent, apathetic, or compromising in our faith and personal trust in Jesus, our hope in holding firm to the promises of Jesus, and our uncompromising love for God above all else (the "love that has been poured into our hearts through the gift of the Spirit which has been given to us" - Romans 5:5).

The Lord is with us to strengthen us in our trials and struggles
The good news is that we do not struggle alone. God is with us and his grace is sufficient! As we strive side by side for the faith of the Gospel with the help and support of our brothers and sisters in the Lord (Philippians 1:27), Jesus assures us of complete victory! Do you trust in God's grace and help, especially in times of testing and temptation?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, may I never doubt your guiding presence and your merciful love towards me. Through the gift of your Spirit fill me with courage and persevering faith to trust you in all things and in every circumstance I find myself. Give me the strength to cling to your promises when the world around me begins to shake or crumble. And when my love and zeal begin to waver, fan into my heart a flame of consuming love and dedication for you who are my All.


This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/