Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
“Enter by the strait gate because the gate is wide and the road is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter by it. How strait the gate and narrow the road that leads to life! And there are few who find it.”
Jesus, in Matthew 7:13–14
Tonight I happened across a television movie telling the fictitious story of two elderly people reminiscing fondly about their grossly immoral romance of their youth. What a lie it is, that sin will leave you with happiness in your old age! What a powerful snare is laid by such movies for young people, as it leaves them with the impression that there will be no consequences for sin, even to the grave! But such is the mind set of many movie makers.
I turned the channel in disgust and there was James Bond, a completely wretched and depraved man, but portrayed in movies as a hero to be admired and emulated.
I again turned the channel in disgust, and there was a nationally televised ball game being played in a huge stadium, which was packed to the highest rows with screaming fans, despite the cold weather and late hour. (It is now 11:30 PM, and the game will probably not end before midnight.)
I turned off the television, heavy and discouraged, and talked to Jesus. We cannot compete against the movie makers, I told him, the clever men who make evil seem so good, and good seem uninteresting, and who make sin seem exciting and right and sincerity and purity seem old fashioned. Typically, announcers for the major ball teams have great talent for making it sound as if what is happening on the playing field is very important, when the truth is that life would continue if those men never even played the game. But the world lives by what it hears and what it sees, and worldly wise men know how to make their product look and sound good. How depressing it can all be!
But then the Lord reminded me of two portions of scriptures. In the first, the prophet Jeremiah was completely discouraged by the popularity of the false prophets, and the Lord let Jeremiah know that He had been watching, and that He knew what the false prophets were doing and saying. He had heard their lies, and He had watched the false prophets cause His people to forget God with their phony prophetic dreams. Then, God got to the point:
“The prophet who has a dream [one that is really from God], he is to tell a dream. And he who has my word, he is to speak my word faithfully! What is the chaff to the wheat? says the Lord” (23:28).
With this, God was telling Jeremiah that to the heart that is hungering and thirsting for righteousness, there is no comparison between the words of the false prophets and the words of the true. He was telling Jeremiah not to be concerned about the many false prophets in Israel, nor to be concerned about how many people were led astray by them. And God’s point is clear: False prophets exist for the multitudes of people in this world who want to hear lies. Somebody, then, must be there for the few who are searching for the truth.
The second scripture Jesus brought to my mind was the one in which he told Pilate,
“For this purpose I have been born, and for this purpose I came into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice” (Jn. 18:37).
Jesus, too, was outnumbered by false prophets, but that was neither here nor there to him. He knew that the multitude of false prophets were there for the entertainment of the multitude who were content with lies. But he also knew that he was there to bear witness to the truth, even in the midst of a thousand lies, for the sake of the few humble souls who wanted the truth. His job was to bear witness of the truth, not to look around and count how many deceivers were out there.
We need not be discouraged if the world does not hear us. Isn’t it to be expected that most people on this earth would be interested only in worldly things? Didn’t Jesus tell us, “The world loves its own”? But we are not of the world, and those, like us, who are not of the world will hear us, regardless of how many other voices may be talking. Jesus said his sheep hear his voice, and in reality, they are the only ones who can.
John wrote, “He who is of God hears the words of God.” And Jesus warned us that God’s way of salvation would be found only by a few. In other words, only a few people, relatively speaking, will ever truly be “of God” and receive the Word of God when it comes. But what the Lord showed me tonight is that those few who hear the Word are the only ones for whom the Word was sent in the first place! God does not fail, and His Word does not fail! The Word of God comes for His sheep, to feed and to show them the way home; it does not come for the world.
My friend, if you broadcast the truth of Christ, and just a handful of people ever receive the seed you have sown, rejoice! You have succeeded, for the seed you sowed was sent only for the ones who can receive it; the seed was not sent for the world. The world at large will never receive Christ. Our task is to proclaim the good news so that the few scattered sheep of God who are on earth can hear it and find their way home.