“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14
Pastor K. had served in the church for over 50 years. I met him when I was marking my 16th year in the ministry. He had been retired for many years so I was able to meet with him only on several occasions and we talked about the pastoral office that we both serve in.
At times I think that now that I’ve got 21 years of pastoral ministry under my belt that I’m more a veteran than a rookie.
But then I remember Pastor K who doubles me in years of experience. And I’ve been blessed to be mentored by several other men who have a wealth of experience in this office that we share.
Of all the experiences and difficulties and joys that we talk about and share, there is one common experience that helps me on many occasions.
The path that we walk as Christians – no matter whether we are pastors or laypeople, veterans or rookies or somewhere in between – is a narrow path and a hard way.
As Christians we are all trying to get to the same destination – heaven.
And the path has been blazed for us by Christ himself. He clears the path and leads the only way to heaven.
But as he says in Matthew 7 it is a narrow path. It is a hard way.
The path is certainly not a “primrose path”, that is, a life and way of perceived luxury and ease that ultimately leads to destruction.
Pastor K – and other mentors in my life – warned me against looking for the easy path or leading others to an easy path.
The temptation is there. It isn’t hard to find some pastors and preachers who teach and preach about “your best life now” implying that Jesus will give you wealth and blessings in this life. While Jesus certainly can do that and seems to do it for some people, it isn’t what Jesus said was the path he was leading others down.
The way will be hard. There will be few people who find it. But it is the way that leads to everlasting life!
In the church I serve we have a symbol that helps all who worship in our sanctuary understand not only the way Jesus leads us on, but what kind of way it will turn out to be.
We have a processional cross that sits next to our pulpit. Because of its position, we call it a “ministerial” cross. On it is the acronym “IHS” – which stands for “Jesus” (it is the first three letters of the Greek name of Jesus).
This cross is used as part of the procession on special worship days in our church. The Crucifix leads us all into the sanctuary, and then this Ministerial Cross follows behind that, leading in the ministers and other lead worshippers.
It stands next to the pulpit because that is where the minister proclaims God’s Word to the people. With the Greek acronym of Jesus name on the cross, the preacher is doing what Greeks asked Philip to do in John 12 – “Sir, we wish to see Jesus!”
Ministers show people Jesus. Jesus showed us that the way that leads to life is a hard way, a narrow way, and involved a cross. An instrument of brutal pain and death but where sin and death was also destroyed.
No, this way – symbolized by Jesus’ cross and proclaimed by Jesus’ ministers – is not an easy way. And this Ministerial Cross tells us that.
What makes this particular processional Ministerial Cross is that it is dedicated to the glory of God in thanksgiving for the ministry of Pastor K – who served in this church for nearly 50 years! During all those years he showed the people Jesus and proclaimed him who told us the hard and narrow way that leads to life.
I most likely will not last that long – but who knows what God has is mind? – but I do pray that I will be able to always show people Jesus in the spirit of this cross.
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