THE NARROW DOOR
Suppose you woke up one morning and found yourself in a strange land. The people of this land all wear huge masks as wide as their outstretched arms. On the masks are painted smiles. Everybody rides on a great big horse. They never leave their horses, even to eat or sleep. They live in specially built houses so they can ride their horses right into their kitchens and living rooms.
Strangest of all is their behavior. A crust of bread is thrown out a window and as soon as backs are turned a horde sweeps in and fights over it, masks and horses and all.
You are wearing a mask too. You have your own horse as well. And quickly you are falling into their ways. But you are miserably homesick.
One day to your amazement you see a man preaching on a street corner.
He has no mask.
He's riding no horse.
He speaks the language of your homeland.
"Follow me all you who want to escape this evil land. I know a door that leads to freedom."
You join a little group that follows this stranger and presently you come to a small door.
"We can't possibly go through that door", says one of the group.
"Of course you can", says the preacher. "All you have to do is take off your monstrous mask and climb off your horse and in 5 minutes you will be in the land of light."
"Take off my mask?"
"Get off my horse?"
"I'd rather be in Hell then give up my mask."
Is it not true that there is something deep within your heart that tells you that you do not belong to this cut-throat, adulterous world.
0h you find plenty of greed and uncleanness in your own heart, you know all too well that you are doing things and thinking thoughts and saying words which are evil. And yet you want to be different. Deep within, a voice tells you that you belong to another Kingdom.
If only you could find your way back to the Paradise of God.
If only you could wash clean of this ugly spirit of greed and evil that has possessed this world.
That's how people felt who came to Jesus. He was from another world. From the world where they longed to be – the Kingdom of Heaven. He made them homesick for God.
Perhaps you are thirsty for God's word because you are homesick too.
You want to be under God your Father.
You want to be delivered from the evil spirit that chokes God's life out of you.
But it's one thing to yearn for God's Kingdom. It's another to actually enter it. Many, many people who long for the Kingdom of God never enter it. They come as far as the door, but never pass through.
Because the door that leads from this sinful kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God is narrow and low.
To get through that door your spirit has to be down to size. If it's wearing a big mask – if it's riding a horse – you just can't squeeze through the door. You will try and try but you just won't fit.
In Chapter 3 of John we see a man drawn to the Kingdom of God by a deep hunger, only to get stuck at that narrow door.
There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. The same came to Jesus by night and said to him:
"Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God, for no man can do these miracles that thou doest except God be with him."
Oh, how Nicodemus longed for Jesus to say to him –
I will show you my secret.
I will give you my power.
I will fill you with the living water of my Spirit."
But instead Jesus said to him –
"Nicodemus, before you can enter the door into God's Kingdom you must change. You must be born all over again."
There he stood. Nicodemus had come so close. Yet he had to wait. He had to change within his heart before he could enter into the Kingdom life.
In the very next Chapter of John we see a woman who was also drawn to that narrow door. She was a half-Jew-Samaritan. She had had five husbands and was living in sin with another man. Yet when she came to that narrow door she did not get stuck.
To her Jesus did not say,
"You must be born again. You'd better go get saved, Lady."
"Ask me, and I'll give you living water."
Why was it so easy for her to enter and so hard for Nicodemus? So easy for a sinful woman – so hard for a religious man? Because that Samaritan woman's spirit was down to size. She was willing to take off her mask and dismount her horse.
Before any of us can get through that narrow door, we must step out of the shoes of Nicodemus into the shoes of that Samaritan woman.
Nicodemus' first mistake was that he came to Jesus at night.
- he was hiding.
- he was under cover.
- he was leavened with the leaven of the Pharisees which is hypocrisy – pretense.
Beware of that leaven. There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, nor hid that shall not be made known.
Nicodemus was afraid of men's opinions. Nicodemus was worried about his position,
his reputation, his prestige.
Nicodemus was wearing a mask and the mask was twice as big as the door.
Jesus never deals with us under cover. When we're trying to hide what we are --- living behind pretense --- He cannot help us through.
Is there anything that you are hiding?
Is there anything you are trying to cover? Are you trying to appear to other people to be something that you are not?
That Samaritan woman had undoubtedly committed far more sin by night than Nicodemus, but when she came to Jesus she came by day.
It was noon – the sixth hour. She was out in the open.
"Go call your husband."
"I have no husband."
"And how! You have had five husbands, and your present man is not your husband."
When Jesus put his finger on her moral life she accepted his light. She didn't argue or try to cover up.
If you want to enter the narrow door, the first thing you must do is come out into the light – pull off your mask.
Maybe you're not sure whether you are wearing one. Will you let Jesus show you how you really look? Will you let him dig around in your soul and uncover things? Will you confess to him?
Come out into the light before men and women too. Nicodemus was ashamed to let his colleagues know he was going to see Jesus.
What about you? Are you really open and honest and transparent before other people?
The second thing that we see about Nicodemus is that Nicodemus came riding to Jesus on a high horse.
Nicodemus could not bend. He could not say,
"Anything you say, Master. If I must be born again let me be born again."
No, that would be too humbling. Instead he reasons and argues.
"How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into the womb? How can these things be?"
Do you see yourself as Nicodemus – arguing? Reasoning with Jesus?
"Lord, I can't accept that!
I'm sorry I can't go along with that!
Why that's fantastic!"
Not, "How can these things be?" but "Sir, give me this water. I want what you have!"
If you want to enter that low door, come down off your high horse.
Who are you anyway?
Why must you be so important?
Why must you take your pride with you – even to God.
Be a child!
Come down off your high horse not only before God but also before people. When someone slights you, why do you get hurt? When someone belittles you, why do you get angry? Because you are not receiving the respect you feel you deserve. But notice how Jesus, the "despised and rejected one" never demanded respect. The only glory he ever defended was his Father's glory.
God will use other people to bring you down to size, until you can take slighting, belittling, ridicule, without fuming about it.
If, as you read these words, you really want to enter the glorious liberty of the Sons of God – the Door is open. You can enter even now.
Are you down to size?
Are you small enough to get through?
The door is narrow. God made it narrow so that before people enter it they have to take off their clumsy masks.
The door is low. God made it low so that before we can enter we have to come down off our high horse.
The door is Jesus Christ – the lowest, simplest, most transparent man who ever lived.
To enter into Jesus Christ is the easiest thing in the world when you've taken off your mask and come out into the light with God and other people.
To abide in Jesus Christ is simple, when you are willing to walk humbly with God and men.
"I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture."
The Samaritan woman entered.
Nicodemus finally made it, and so will you if you will lay aside your mask, dismount your horse, and get on your knees and bend your neck.
Then He will send His Spirit into your heart. You will be born from above. The demon spirits of this world will no more drive you to and fro.
For the Spirit of Jesus – the lowly one – will guide you unerringly in the way of God and you will have liberty and joy such as you have never known.