“But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:14
All my life, I have been aware of that narrow gate; at least, for as long as I was able to even comprehend the words to the verse. My visual has always been this: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”” Matthew 19:24, Mark 10:25, Luke 18:25. (Notice that the same verse, pretty much word for word, is found in three out of four Gospels. A pretty fail-safe sign that we better listen up on that…. ). As a child, I tried to imagine squeezing an entire camel through a real needle’s eye, and it was pretty mind-boggling. I’ve since read that it was perhaps misinterpreted; that the Greek word maybe should have meant “rope” or “cable”. Which would make a LOT more sense… trying to thread a rope through a needle’s eye would be tough. A camel? Well, let’s just say that the visual kept me entertained during my younger years, and leave it at that. Bottom line is that I’ve been aware that walking the path laid out for us isn’t an easy thing to do; I think I’ve just focused on all of the wrong reasons as to why. I always looked at it from what I now see as an Old Testament lens; no stealing, no lying, take care of your parents, be faithful, only GOD as your God, etc. And yet, those things are not only Christian virtues; for the most part, they are are HUMAN virtues. Most people, Christian or not, realize that it’s wrong to steal (at least, as long as they are well-fed, clothed, and housed). They understand that killing someone is a pretty serious deal. And while only about half (or less) of us choose to honor our vows, there aren’t too many people, Christian or otherwise, who would blatantly say that it’s OK to cheat on your spouse.
But last night, I finally realized WHY the path gets harder to find and WHY the gate is so narrow. Osama (or Usama, depending on your source) Bin Laden was declared dead. At last. Finally. Not quite ten years after he tore the fabric of this country irrevocably, he is no longer a threat to us. And for that, I am thankful. BUT… he is also a creation of God. Born into a family, a place, a WORLD that shaped his beliefs and his path, he is the icon for 9/11/01. The face of Satan for so many. As soon as I saw the first post on Facebook that he had been killed, I watched as the whole system lit up. Rejoicing… and in many cases, gloating. I get it; I really do. I still remember very clearly standing (and then falling on my knees) in front of the T.V. after getting a call early on 9/01.. “Turn on the T.V. NOW.. something BIG has happened!” I remember falling to my knees, holding my 18 month old boy and wondering what the world was going to be like when he got older. I watched our innocence and sense of security collapse right alongside the Twin Towers. And as the word got out as to who, and how, and why… I felt hatred for Bin Laden and his spawn. His followers. His creation of .. hatred. Which, I now realize, ended up being reflected in me.
And so, I now have a different understanding of that narrow path. It isn’t about the BIG stuff that we all “get”. It’s about this. About being able to see Osama Bin Laden as God sees him; created to worship, but gone SO far astray that he never was able to be found. I now realize that God is grieving, because he knew Osama by name, and he was precious to our God. My flesh cries out for revenge, especially after the death of Jacob Dennis. But God…? He loved Osama, and He is grieved. And Christ? He still advocates the whole “turn the other cheek” thing, and I know that He would have loved for some Christian to have made inroads. Somehow. So, that is my prayer; that we all stop rejoicing over death and instead start lifting up those who have been left behind. That we take the narrow path and simply forgive and pray for mercy, even though none was shown to us. I humbly request that you join me…