While traveling down most roads, you will normally find ditches on either side of that road. These ditches can be a danger to those driving by who get too close. These ditches seem to gather all the run off, and as a result usually are rather foul and nasty. These ditches are not where you want to be if you are trying to get somewhere.
Our Christian life is just a pilgrimage through this world. Matthew 7:14 reads:
Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.Many use this text in the context of salvation, and it is a good application, but the reality is that the context of this verse is that of the Christian life. This verse is part of a lengthy discourse the Lord was using to teach His disciples (Matt. 5:1-2). The proper, God honoring, Christian life is one on a road that is "narrow". On this narrow road, there are ditches on either side.
The ditch on the left is one of modernism. In this ditch has run all those who embrace the 'emerging church', contemporary music, tearing down of standards, preaching of 'essentials' and 'non essentials,' anything goes religion. In this ditch we find the "Elevation Church", "Worship Center", and the like. In this ditch the Word of God is found in many 'translations' or whatever man prefers. In this ditch they have rock concerts at church, never preach against sin, but hand out water bottles to cars driving by. In this church all one has to do to get to Heaven is be a good person (by whose standards? I suppose their own). In this ditch, a little alcohol is not only accepted, but even endorsed. In this ditch, immorality is excused and the grace of God abused. This ditch has seen all the run-offs from the straight and narrow. This ditch has seen it's level grow to large numbers, but it stinks, is dangerous, and will eventually dry out.
It's easy to preach against this ditch-the ditch on the left. Matter fact, you don't normally see too many cars run off into the ditch on the left. Mostly those whose life is spinning out of control end up in that ditch. But, there is another ditch.
The ditch on the right also collects the run-off and can become just as disgusting. The straight and narrow is, well, just that-straight and narrow. It's as narrow as the Word of God. It doesn't matter who you are, you can easily find yourself there when you take your eyes off of where you are heading. Many find themselves in this ditch by 'over correcting.' Now don't get me wrong-right is always right and we need not compromise, but we also had best take heed. Strong preaching is a must, high standards are commanded in Scripture, doctrine is right, the Word of God is just that-His Word and it is found for us English speakers in the KJV-ALONE! Our Bible being King James, our men wearing ties, our ladies wearing dresses, our music being sacred, our hands off policy between boys and girls, our absence from movie theaters, our doctrine, our church polity, our preaching against alcohol; these things don't put us in the ditch on the right, but on the straight and narrow. How can I say this? Because I have Scripture for all these things.
Recently, an "Elevation Church" was started in my town of Blanchester, Ohio. They sent me a post card invitation saying "A Church for those who were dragged to church when they were young...A Church that lets you be you and not what others tell you to be...a church with a comedy hour every weekend...a church where you can dress how you want...etc." The pastor said if I had a question to email him. I did. I emailed him and asked what Scriptures he based all these ideas on? I gave him Scriptures as to why these things ought not to be, and gave him a chance to give me Scriptures defending his views. He wrote back and said he didn't need Scripture, but he was meeting the people's need through these practices. Actually, he is meeting people's lusts through these practices. There is a right and a wrong and just for taking a stand on the Bible and it's teachings doesn't put you in a ditch on the other side. So what does put you in that ditch?
The other ditch, the ditch on the right, is the ditch that where those who 'over correct' normally find themselves. There you will find those who have decided that they have a 'monopoly' on righteousness. There you will find those who won't let you in their church if you ladies don't have a skirt on. There you will find those who will not have a discussion about doctrine with anyone, because they know you 'aren't right.' There you find those who believe that their church is the only 'real church' in the entire state. There you will find those who think that the Bride of Christ is their church-and only their church. There you will find those who think only Baptists are going to Heaven. There you will find a lot of pride and very little teaching. There you will find alot of screaming, but little teaching. There you will find a lot of preaching against gossip, unless it is the 'good pastors' talking about the 'bad ones.' There, the run off is just as stinky and just as dangerous.
Again, may we find ourselves on the straight and narrow. May we have the mind of Christ! In Luke 9, we read about when the Lord and His disciples came to Samaria, but they would not receive Him:
And they did not receive him, because his face was as though he would go to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, Lord, wilt thou that we command fire to come down from heaven, and consume them, even as Elias did?
But he turned, and rebuked them, and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them. And they went to another village.
We must not compromise! We must keep preaching against sin and teaching the truths of the Word of God; but we must never forget that if someone had wrote us off as 'evil' and never shown us the truth-where would we be? God has left us here not to destroy and condemn, but to teach, reach, and reconcile people to the Lord and His Word. This duty demands we stay on the straight and narrow, and keep watching out for ditches-on both sides!