“And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty.” (1 Samuel 12:21)
How the world loves to pursue empty things! All of humanity has a void in their heart and seeks to fill it, yet they almost always seek to do so in ways that don’t include their God and Creator. Since the Garden, men have desired to replace God with that which the world offers; not that which only He can give. It creates a hopeless situation that leads to death, yet man doesn’t learn from his past and continues his useless journey.
Jesus came to fill that emptiness we all experience. He proved that He alone was the One who could take away the ache and loneliness of mankind. In His incarnation Jesus stressed the necessity for following Him and turning from the world when He said in Luke 13:24:
“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.”
What is the narrow door? Opposed to that, what is the wide door?
The narrow door is the one that Jesus showed leads to Him. And where is He? In heaven. With God the Father.
Why is it that so many people desire – or at least say they desire – to go to heaven, yet have no interest in following Jesus? That seems to be a contradiction and hypocrisy, doesn’t it?
To follow Jesus means to surrender who we are and to lay down our very human agendas. In that, God requires we no longer exalt ourselves and the things of this world. Rather, as we place what we want at the foot of the cross, we are to obey God’s commands. It means that all of our faith be invested in Christ alone. When we do this, we trust in God with believing loyalty, and we follow no other gods. This is so contrary to human nature – our free will rebels against giving up the power, authority, and independence we think we have. We are self-pleasuring creatures, and the notion that we must do what Someone else tells us is an intolerable thought. The narrow door that Jesus spoke of has little appeal. We’d rather turn aside after empty things that in our vain imaginations we believe are profitable.
Sadly, it is this turning aside that causes us to eagerly head toward the wide door. Just like the people of Israel wanted a king so as to be like all the surrounding pagan nations (1 Samuel 8:5), men generally want to do what others are doing. Despite thinking we want independence, we actually prefer to be exactly like everyone else. In fact, as the mob gathers, we are drawn to it. Instead of being that lonely person who resists the thinking and actions of the crowd, we meld with it and become part of the nameless, faceless entity that loses its ability to think. We listen to the voices that stir us to rebellion against God’s way because that is our nature. Having deceitful hearts, we love to be deceived.
The wide road is evident today as the world moves toward the Tribulation. Authority says wear a mask, isolate yourselves from others, take a vaccine to be safe. Isn’t there safety in numbers (as long as we don’t actually gather)? Apparently, since so many blindly walk this expansive highway.
Those who have resisted and engaged in independent thought and research to seek the truth are mocked, vilified, and nullified. Their voices are silenced so that those traveling the wide road won’t hear them. Ignorance and arrogance feed on themselves. They grow larger and more pronounced. Their desire to persecute those in the opposition who don’t comply with the narrative increases by the day.
A vivid example of this is the church in Canada that has resisted their government’s mandate. GraceLife Church in Edmonton, Alberta continued to hold services despite the authorities demanding they shut down to supposedly prevent further spread of the Wuhan virus. Their following God’s command to continue meeting was contrary to government policy. The authorities punished the church’s pastor, James Coates, by throwing him into jail for 35 days and imposing a fine.
The church continued to meet. They decided to enter the narrow door. The week following their continued disobedience to government dictate by gathering on Palm and Easter Sundays, the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) erected a double-layer fence around the property to prevent people from entering the premises, even going so far as to set up roadblocks against entry. Faithful church-goers in response tore down the fence so they could worship, which they did outside (yesterday, as I write this). For this affront, the government dispatched 200 armed troops.
This is Canada, part of the so-called free world. It’s not China under a communist dictatorship. Because this situation hasn’t yet completely played out, we don’t know how it will end. I wonder what the troops would have done if they’d been at the church earlier in the day when the people tore down the fence so they could gather to worship? Would they have fired on them? Will such an atrocity still happen?
Look at where the wide door leads. It opens to tyranny. It’s at the end of an anti-God road that wants nothing more than to thwart the things of God and to punish His people.
What will happen as these kinds of situations develop in America? They will, you know. Will pastors and their churches stand against their overweening government like Pastor Coates and GraceLife Church? Or will they, like so many did in Nazi Germany and under Soviet domination capitulate? Will they say, “We follow God alone”? Or will they say, “Of course we can embrace atheist communism”? We’re drawing near to a tipping point. Churches will soon have to decide their fate similar to this one in Canada.
The Bible tells us that most churches will succumb to worldly pressure. They will complete their journey into apostasy, and in so doing, usher their people into the Tribulation.