The Narrow Gate: A Grain of Wheat

John 12:20-26Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there will my servant be also. Whoever serves me, the Father will honor.”

Jesus is not talking about farming here, except as an illustration. He is talking about us. The grain of wheat that fall to the ground and dies is our self-life.  We let go of it, let it drop, and pursue our God with an all-consuming love.  It is by comparison that we seem to hate our life. Yet we gain the infinitely larger, grander, richer, fuller life of our God in its place, now and for eternity. I have come to experience transformation as I deepen my repentance from self and my love for my God.

Here is the key to all of life as our God intends it for us.  This key is an all-consuming love for our God, a love that brings us into union and intimacy with Him.  A love that engages all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and that leads us into deep fellowship with Him.  This key unlocks the life of God in us.  Love, joy, peace, rest for our souls, and all the other promises of our God flow into us and are lived through us.

Our God grants all of this without measure to those who diligently seek Him. The Bible promises this.  The saints who have pursued our God in this way have given us their testimony to this.  I have seen it as well.  This is indeed the way, the truth, and the life that is in Christ.

Unfortunately, many Christians today have little to no experience with this deep love for our God.  And this comes as no surprise.  Few know this and fewer teach this, even though this love for our God is the central theme of the Bible. This consuming love for our God is largely absent from pulpits and books across North America.    

In the absence of sound teaching and examples, love for our God has been identified as going to meetings, doing the religious duties, agreeing with doctrines, and following God from a distance. The result is that for most “believers” the faith becomes a system of managing the God relationship which they try to do with religious rituals, duties, forms and scheduled events.  Their faith is reduced to viewing hours for God and a “to-do” lit of duties and rituals. 

This kind of religiosity does not encourage a dynamic life of union with our God.  It is more likely to distract us from this life. In living this way, so many miss the key to the fullness of life as it was meant to be. Religiosity and self effort, no matter how well-intentioned it may be, can never take us into truly godliness and holiness. These can only come through the life of Christ lived in place of our own living.

We must repent of the religiosity and turn to our God out of simple love and devotion. When we begin to love our God with all our being, His life will begin to flow into us.  Lesser things will no longer be important to us. But how do we begin? 

Following are a few steps I have adopted to live in this all-consuming love for our God every day.  Each morning, when I first realize that I am awake, I turn to Him and begin to tell Him I love Him more than life itself.  Sometimes that takes a few moments of my time before I roll out and start the day, and sometimes more. On one recent morning, I laid there and had that conversation with Him for nearly an hour.  We spoke of my love for Him, my surrender to His will and my desire to have His life lived in me.  It was a rich and deep time of simply enjoying His presence.  If you have not experienced something like this before, please begin to explore it.

As my day goes on, I stop often to simply “call upon the name of the Lord.”  I will use the name “Jesus,” or simply “Lord.”  Sometimes I will use the ancient name for our God, transliterated as either “Yahweh” or “Jehovah.”  Other times I use different names for our God found in the Bible.  I speak His name softly, and restate my love for Him. 

Most of my prayer time is now spent speaking of my love for my God, my full surrender to Him, my gratitude for His many gifts and His presence in my life.  Sometimes I will pray the “Jesus Prayer,” which is any form of this prayer: “Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, have mercy on me, I pray.”  In times of difficulty or uncertainty this prayer is how I release to Him all that is uncertain. 

My prayer life has become a time of conversational communion filled with expressions of love, surrender, and two-way communication. I still pray for people and situations, but it is more conversational now as I ask my God how I should pray.

Love is the key to everything in the life of a true disciple of Christ.  Not a syrup-like emotionalism, and not a commitment to simply do things for God.  It is a willful commitment to put our God first in our hearts, minds, choices, and priorities every single day.  It is a love for and to our God, not about Him.  Once you begin to pursue it, this love will grow with remarkable speed into the central issue in your life each day.  It has done so for me. 

3 thoughts on “The Narrow Gate: A Grain of Wheat

  1. This is beautiful. Recently, with my first kid’s book, I’ve placed myself “out there”. To step into a bit of a public role is scary again. When I left education I didn’t have to worry about speaking in front of others or being “judged”. In the midst of this week my conversations with my Heavenly Papa were lessened. And it made me feel “off”. When my phone pings I actually feel offended! Everyone wants to talk and I only wish to commune with my Creator. I must clear the clutter and focus on the one thing that truly matters. And everything else can be a silent background.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your response. As you indicated, putting ourselves “out there” as a response of love and obedience seems like a risk, maybe even a threat. Yet there is no true love that is not built on taking risks. And what true love is not worth fighting for, worth struggling to keep front and center? As you have seen, the struggle to love our God is real and pervasive, And it is worth the fight. Thanks again. Happy Sunday to you!

      Liked by 1 person

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