Matthew 7 reads (in the NIV) ‘13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’

This is not a doctrinal statement by Jesus about who gets into heaven. That’s what I learned growing up. If you don’t accept Jesus (the narrow way) then you are destined for the fires of hell (destruction).

No, what Jesus is saying is better expressed in the MESSAGE version. ‘13-14 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.’

Jesus is inviting his disciples into the God life, the best life possible here on earth. That’s the life Jesus is talking about. And yes it requires discipline. Anything worthwhile requires putting our all into it, whether sports, music, business, marriage, or peace.

Try forgiving someone without holding on for dear life to the grace of God. And yes that grace requires our fullest attention. I think that’s why Paul at one point wrote that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling because God is already at work in us. God life is the life God in Christ invites us to. It’s why God reconciled us through the sacrifice of Jesus.

Those in Jesus’ time who took life into their own hands found out about destruction at the hands of the Romans. They brought it on to themselves when they refused to follow the Messiah. We bring destruction onto ourselves, our work, our life, and even our churches when we do it our way. Jesus invites us to walk in the vigorous way of faith. And it takes a whole lot of practice along with God’s grace.


SO after tearing my meniscus playing basketball I went to the therapist to get my knee fixed. I thought.
She began by saying, “We need to work on your hamstring and your quad and then your calf muscle and then your balance.” Whoa, I thought to myself. What about my knee? Seems that if you work on  discipline to other parts of your leg your knee will actually be better. Yeah, even the balance thing, standing on one leg, helps to strengthen all the parts around your knee and the outcome is a healthier, stronger knee.
Can you see where this is going? People want stronger faith and yet so often don’t want to go through the disciplines to get there. People want to love more and yet are hard pressed to discipline their lives towards love.
So that’s why we are told to read the Scriptures, memorize them, practice them to the end that our faith and our love are built up. That’s why we have the gift and discipline of prayer, to work on our faith and our love to the end that after much conversation with our God we will be strengthened. The discipline of prayer may start out as hard work. Being still before God is often hard work for busy people. But do it as much as you would do physical exercise knowing you will be better for it. You will understand the work of God, and much more the grace of God.I don’t mean a shout out to God once in a while but an intentional approach to God in quiet prayer or just sitting intentionally in silence before God knowing that such silence is a benefit to your spirit.
And then nothing beats practicing love. Forgiving someone, share a kind word with someone, giving up yourself for another who would not necessarily do the same for you. The more we call all practice that kind of grace in this world the closer we will grow to our Master, Jesus. And that is a therapy worth its weight in gold.
So here’s to the spiritual disciplines. I have mentioned but a few.  There are many more.