Narrow miss or missed by a mile?

Most of you guys, and a few of you ladies, know what it feels like to narrowly miss a target.  If you’ve ever been in a tree stand on a Saturday morning or at a firing range on the weekend, you know what it feels like to narrowly miss the target.   You can leave the rifle range feeling pretty good about yourself if you narrowly missed the center of the target but, it feels a lot different to miss the big buck in the tree stand on a Saturday morning!

When you’re aiming at that prized buck you either hit the target or you missed.  No one gives you partial credit for a narrow miss when hunting big game.  Either you hit your target or you missed your target.   A narrow miss is still a miss when it comes to hunting big game.

Narrow hips

Many women are aiming at a very different target personally. They are aiming for narrow hips.   In fact, this happens so often in our society that this is the first entry for the word “narrow” in the dictionary.   The word narrow can mean “of slender width”.[1]

Maybe you’re one of the millions of people who get up early and go to the gym before you start your day. You push yourself hard and wear yourself out so that you can fit into that new skirt or get back into your wedding dress. Who can blame you? We live in a society that highly values narrow hips. We also live in a society that perpetuates narrow minds.

Narrow mind

I know many people who have a narrow mind.   Be careful of the voices that you’re listening to- They can leave you with a narrow mind. Plenty of people spend hours a day watching cable news or reading articles on the Internet. Unfortunately, everything they read and all that they watch speaks with one voice.   Merriam- Webster describes this as being illiberal in views or prejudiced.[2]

Some people have a narrow mind because they refuse to listen to other voices.   Most people however, have a narrow mind because they don’t have time for other voices.  We live in an age where you have access to lots of different voices.  We also live in an age where you can have lots of similar voices saying different things or lots of different voices saying the same things.  Be careful, before long you will start to live like the voices that you listen to.

Narrow door

Jesus gives a description that’s very unusual in Luke 13:24. He describes getting into the Kingdom of God as a “narrow door”.  This definition of narrow is very precise.  It means, “of less than standard or usual width”.[3]

Does it strike you as odd that Jesus would describe getting into Heaven as a narrow doorway? Why would God make the door narrow? Doesn’t God want everybody in Heaven? Why do we have to strive to get through the door in the first place- Shouldn’t it come easy?

I think Jesus uses language like the entrance into Heaven is a “narrow door” as a warning to all people. You can’t miss the implication that not everyone will end up in heaven.  Narrow door language prepares us for what Jesus says next- not everyone who thinks they’re going to Heaven will actually end up there (Luke 13:25).

Consider the background for this statement in Luke 13:24. Jesus has just confronted and criticized the religious leaders for turning the Sabbath into something God never intended it to be.   He healed a woman in the synagogue on the Sabbath and the religious leaders were incensed.   This was no accident. This was a very public way for Jesus to show that religious people have become hardened towards God.  In fact, in Luke 13:15 Jesus says that these people care more about their ox and donkey than they do church members that are hurting.

Religious people take note… Jesus is warning us. We can do everything right and still not end up in Heaven! It boils down to the condition of your heart. Look deep in the mirror and examine your heart if you want to know whether you will make it through the narrow door.   If your heart is hard towards other people, then it might also hard towards God.

[1] Inc Merriam-Webster, Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary. (Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2003).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

Further reading