Living with the End in View involves
Leaving the Crowd Behind

There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out. (Luke 13:28)

In this story, we see a situation from two different perspectives, from God’s side and the human side. A group of people who were refused admission in the kingdom will knock on a door, protesting, “We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets” (13:25).

The master’s explanation for locking them out was, “I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity” (13:25). Jesus said some will weep when they see themselves excluded, while God accepts “Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets” into the kingdom.

The protesting party was laboring under a misunderstanding. They thought following the crowds which thronged the master was enough to gain entrance. Jesus the healer was popular, and they were glad to bask in His glow, thus lending their approval to all He did and said.

Even today many of us are satisfied to belong to a group that honors Christ. We may join them in meaningful religious endeavors. We enjoy the many sermons. The local body gets our stamp of approval every time we visit. However, we miss out when we keep only a casual acquaintance with the local church. We may eat and drink with other members at picnics and potlucks, yet keep the Lord at arm’s length in our relationship with Him.

What is the difference between the rejected party and the people admitted into the kingdom? We get a clue to solving this puzzle in the words of Jesus before the above passage. Jesus had finished speaking about striving to enter through the narrow gate. Following the crowd is not striving to get in. Showing up for the potlucks and bingo sessions in good times doesn’t mean we’ll be committed to the welfare of the body in hard times. Enjoying the sermon does not mean we’ll obey it.

When the prevailing winds coax us to accept what God calls immorality, strive against it. Don’t applaud deviant sexual practices in the church. Don’t accept alliances with organizations that are enemies of God. Why entertain practices from the New Age when Christ has clearly shown Himself as the only Way, Truth, and the Life? Resist watering down the Gospel to accommodate sensitive, seeking souls.

Who will gain entrance? Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob represent those who will enter. They followed the Lord more than they followed the crowd. Their lives were characterized by faith and obedience. They had to strive because obedience meant costly sacrifices as they moved to unknown lands, trusted God for what they could not do, and rested in Him for an inheritance and reward they would receive only after death.

Strive to enter in. The crowd in Jesus’ day gladly ate and drank with people who preferred the easy way. They were pleased to listen to Christ when He passed through their town. They loved hearing His stories, but when they became hard to bear, they left Him. But His disciples continued long after the crowds had dispersed.

Are you striving to follow in the footsteps of faithful Abraham? Are you like Isaac and Jacob, trusting God for an inheritance to come that is not of this world? Strive against a crowd which calls you to the easy life of eating and drinking or compromising with the world. Take the narrow path that allows only two to travel side by side–you and your Master.

Living with the end in view is to leave the crowd and to follow Christ.

Steps of faith:
If you tend to go with what’s popular, stop and consider exactly what you really believe about the issue.
If the group you follow lacks a solid grasp of Scripture and a walk with the Lord, make friends of godly men and women who could give you a deeper perspective.
Ask the Lord to create in you a heart which stands against opposition.

–Steve Husting

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Comments
  1. bluecollarchristian says:

    “Are you striving to follow in the footsteps of faithful Abraham? Are you like Isaac and Jacob, trusting God for an inheritance to come that is not of this world? Strive against a crowd which calls you to the easy life of eating and drinking or compromising with the world. Take the narrow path that allows only two to travel side by side–you and your Master.”

    Steve,
    What you say about striving against a crowd who calls us to the easy life sounds completely doable when referencing Christians vs. non-Christians. Taking this within Christianity, however, makes the issue a bit more gray, doesn’t it? At least for me. I, like Abraham, am seeking that heavenly city which is to come and I believe myself to be merely a pilgrim in this world. I desire to be a part of the Marriage of the Lamb and to be a part of the kingdom which is to come. This is me, seeking to strive through the narrow gate. But, there are very few Christians who share my views (as you, Kevin, and GCM have experienced). Does this mean that we continue to individually strive, while maintaining fellowship with other Christians based our lowest common denominator of beliefs? How do we grow then? I desire the company of Christians who exhort and encourage me in my beliefs and offer help when I slip-up. Being in the company of wishy-washy Christians does nothing but encourage laziness (at least that has been my experience).

    My question is this–if we are to strive to enter through the narrow gate, what do we do with all of those around us who are going towards the broad gate? Stay away from them? Seek to convert them? How do we enlighten other Christians about the amazing truth of the gospel of the glories of Christ, when most often discussions lead to wrangling with words and insults to existing belief systems?

    I wholeheartedly see the necessity of discussions between Christians that would be profitable, such as I see between you and Kevin and GCM. But, when we seek to assist fellow Christians who appear to be “circling their planes” in the fog in the hopes of helping them “land,” then to find that they had no intention of landing, but instead were circling to get a clean shot of their target, it is disheartening to say the least. It does nothing to encourage dialogue. In fact, it threatens to send me in the opposite direction. (Although, I must say that even though you, Kevin, and GCM have slightly different viewpoints on the matter of the kingdom, you all have handled yourselves and each other admirably.)

    I am sure that there are others out there “lurking” that are trying to learn as much as they can about the offer of the kingdom of heaven. I believe your website offers us much opportunity for growth (myself in particular). I would be extremely encouraged to see you, Kevin, and GCM back at it, not fighting the enemy separately, but together exploring the incredible mysteries of the kingdom as found in the Scriptures. And I, for one, would love to take part in that!

    • Does this mean that we continue to individually strive, while maintaining fellowship with other Christians based our lowest common denominator of beliefs?

      The greatest commandment is to love God. The second is to love your neighbor. We are not equal or unequal based on our stated beliefs. We are all fallen. We are not somehow better if our theology is more perfect (1 Cor. 13:2). We maintain fellowship with other Christians because we are commanded to, that’s all. If you love God, then you’ll love the brethren (1 John 4:20-21). If you say you love God but don’t love your brother, then God’s love does not abide in you – just self abides in you!

      How do we grow then? I desire the company of Christians who exhort and encourage me in my beliefs and offer help when I slip-up. Being in the company of wishy-washy Christians does nothing but encourage laziness (at least that has been my experience).

      When I read Revelation chapters 2-3 and Jesus’ exhortation to the troubled churches, I don’t see Him telling the Christians to leave their fellowship because they others hold bad doctrines and practices. Jesus addressed those who still have a heart for Him and tells them to personally overcome the problem – to stand against the immorality in their own lives. If you know the problem is wishy-washiness, then be watchful against it in your own life. Write down the danger signs you see in yourself that lead you in that direction and be watchful for them. Don’t burn bridges – God will want to use you among them.

      if we are to strive to enter through the narrow gate, what do we do with all of those around us who are going towards the broad gate? Stay away from them? Seek to convert them?

      Good questions. I think Paul’s approach was best – to be all things to all men that he might save some (1 Cor. 9:19-27). Don’t avoid those who seem to love this world. Be their friend. Be light in a dark place. Jesus ate with sinners when others avoided them. You may be the only light they’ll see, so let it shine. Give thanks at the table when they don’t. Say, “Praise the Lord!” when you congratulate them. Don’t swear, but say, “God help me, that hurts!” Be their servant in all things. When they put down others, give a gentler perspective. If you can’t do any of these things, then you may have a proud heart that needs humbling. We are not better than they merely because our doctrine if more correct! If they cannot wrangle over words in love, then they have missed the forest for the trees – they wrangle about love, but forget to love! This is carnality, and you’ll just have to have patience and give them room to grow. I’ve been there!

      I wholeheartedly see the necessity of discussions between Christians that would be profitable, such as I see between you and Kevin and GCM. But, when we seek to assist fellow Christians who appear to be “circling their planes” in the fog in the hopes of helping them “land,” then to find that they had no intention of landing, but instead were circling to get a clean shot of their target, it is disheartening to say the least.

      We have a difference in views and we are merely sharing our differences. I have gotten past the point of having to make all people believe the way I do. I can just share my point and leave it at that. If they disagree, then I can ask questions just to understand how they arrived at that perspective. If you find it disheartening, then it’s possible you feel that you need to win the conversation, or you need to convert the other to your viewpoint. You don’t need to worry if someone has a different view or has arrived a different conclusion based on the same passage. The views of the people on the forum do not stem from a wicked or God-hating life. They have views that are perfectly compatible with a godly lifestyle. I am okay with that.

      Thank you for writing!

  2. bluecollarchristian says:

    “The greatest commandment is to love God. The second is to love your neighbor. We are not equal or unequal based on our stated beliefs.”

    Agreed! The issue of our equality in Christ is clear– we are all one in Him, no better, no worse–each of us possessing the sin nature that so easily entangles us. But the issue of equality comes in when the journey is set before us, for one cannot make a journey while yoked with another who is seeing, and moving toward, a different path. This becomes the issue–righteousness being bound together with lawlessness. The one seeking the things above not being bound together with the one seeking the things of this world, this age. Is this not talking about actions and mindsets, rather than simply Christian vs. non-Christian? For we know that a fellow Christian, whom we are commanded to love, may indeed be fleshly and tied to the things of this world. And as we seek to love one another in reflection of how Christ loves us it becomes clear that our love will be sacrificial in nature–not self-serving nor self-elevating. Love in the purest sense takes its form in seeking to bring one another up into the fullness that is Christ. But to do this we must have some agreement as to what that fullness is. Is it simply standing in His grace, as we bask in what He has done for us? Or is it also working out our salvation in fear and trembling until Christ is formed in each one of us. This takes communication and fellowship and encouragement, not condemnatory comments on how ridiculous “KE” (or Calvinism or whatever the case may be) appears to doubters. My point– loving one another does not mean that we have to study together. Loving one another just may take the form of, as it did with Paul, handing someone over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh (I Cor 5:5) or handing someone over to Satan in order to be taught not to blaspheme (I Tim 1:20). Harsh? Perhaps. But we are told to judge the church (for what have we to do with outsiders? God will judge them–I Cor. 5:12-13) For clarification– judging the fellow Christian’s sin (and taking action against it) does not mean judging and determining that person’s fate at the JSOC.

    “When I read Revelation chapters 2-3 and Jesus’ exhortation to the troubled churches, I don’t see Him telling the Christians to leave their fellowship because they others hold bad doctrines and practices. ”

    But doesn’t it say exactly that elsewhere? What of the false teachers that Paul warned the elders in Ephesus about that were going to come up from among them (Acts 20:29-30)? What about those whom Paul tells Timothy to avoid in II Tim 3:5? These are men that hold to a form of godliness but love the pleasures of this life–lovers of self. These are men that are “always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (v. 7) Context dictates that these individuals are within the body, not outsiders, otherwise the dangers would not be so serious.

    “If they cannot wrangle over words in love, then they have missed the forest for the trees – they wrangle about love, but forget to love! This is carnality, and you’ll just have to have patience and give them room to grow. ”

    How does one make the distinction between wrangling over words “in love” versus just wrangling? We are commanded not to wrangle over words for it is useless and leads to the destruction of all who hear (II Tim 2:14). And in this context Paul tells Timothy to remind the church that he is to watch over precisely what it is that they are to focus on– “if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him; if we endure with Him, we shall also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself.” (II Tim. 2:11-13). It seems to me that if the wrangling comes in over these issues–denial or acceptance, reigning vs. not, then it is not profitable. And as such, we need to be careful that we consider God’s viewpoint on this, not our own (for isn’t it always a danger that our own egos take over?).

    “We have a difference in views and we are merely sharing our differences. I have gotten past the point of having to make all people believe the way I do. I can just share my point and leave it at that. If they disagree, then I can ask questions just to understand how they arrived at that perspective. If you find it disheartening, then it’s possible you feel that you need to win the conversation, or you need to convert the other to your viewpoint.

    Yes, we can share viewpoints, and we should always be ready to share viewpoints. But isn’t there a point when it becomes persecutory? “Kingdom Exclusion” (as it is being called) is not popular, obviously, and me being disheartened is simply a reflection of the sadness I feel when others refuse to hear. Especially when they continue to ask questions in a deceptive manner indicating that they really want to listen. And at that point it seems that conversation should stop. (I say all of this from the perspective of one who has tried to remain in fellowship with those with differing views. It has never turned out well for me.)

    “You don’t need to worry if someone has a different view or has arrived a different conclusion based on the same passage. The views of the people on the forum do not stem from a wicked or God-hating life.”

    Is it worry? No. I don’t worry about others with different views. I would say it is more like concern for those around us. We argue, we wrangle, we debate. Does that ruin those who hear? We need to be careful. And as for whether or not the views stem from a wicked life (and wicked is not at all the same as God-hating), I would leave that up to God to decide, for sure. But let’s not think that wickedness comes in the form of the obvious– God states clearly that He views UNBELIEF as evil (Heb. 3:12). This context is using God’s own people (the church in comparison with Israel) as the writer warns those within the church not to allow this to happen within them/us. And I guess we could go on and on as to what “unbelief” really is. But for the record, this context in Hebrews states that unbelief (an evil heart) has to do with that first generation of Israel not entering into the land–the rest– that was promised to them as an inheritance.

    Thank you for your ability to maintain love for the brethren. It is most encouraging.

    • “Loving one another just may take the form of, as it did with Paul, handing someone over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh (I Cor 5:5) or handing someone over to Satan in order to be taught not to blaspheme (I Tim 1:20).”

      LOL! And how exactly do you expect to do this?

      What about those whom Paul tells Timothy to avoid in II Tim 3:5?

      Looks like you’ve already answered your question with this verse – just avoid them and let others deal with them.

      How does one make the distinction between wrangling over words “in love” versus just wrangling? We are commanded not to wrangle over words for it is useless and leads to the destruction of all who hear (II Tim 2:14).

      Again, just avoid them and let someone else with more maturity deal with them.

      Yes, we can share viewpoints, and we should always be ready to share viewpoints. But isn’t there a point when it becomes persecutory?

      You’ve addressed this with the verses above.

      We argue, we wrangle, we debate. Does that ruin those who hear?

      Don’t answer with the same spirit, but in the spirit of Christ. Again, if you can’t, you’ve answered this question with the verses above. Finally: “Pro 26:4 – Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.”

  3. bluecollarchristian says:

    “LOL! And how exactly do you expect to do this?”

    You laugh–and not that I blame you–for no one, I hope, is seeking to rush out and deliver someone over to Satan! My point is in pointing out the extremes perhaps we can find the gray area in between. One side–fellowship with all Christians, regardless of belief systems and behaviors, or the other side–complete separation and/or casting them out of the “church”. I am just curious as to what the “handing them over to Satan” looks like, since it is in the Scriptures and it was a reality for the early church (and I’ve never heard it explained from any pulpit!). Yes, Paul is Paul and he had the wisdom and authority–but yet it remains in the letters to us as an example. It seems to be a more poignant reality in these last days, as we “kingdom seekers” within the body seem to be incurring the most persecution.

    “Again, just avoid them and let someone else with more maturity deal with them.’

    I think this is the key, for with maturity comes wisdom and humility, and the ability to discern good from evil (Heb 5:13-14).

    “Pro 26:4 – Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.”

    Amen!!

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