The Narrow-Minded and The Narrow Road

I think one of the single most frustrating things that comes along with identifying as a Christian today is the ugly, six-letter word that all too often gets assigned to my values and biblical worldview: narrow.

Narrow-minded, to be exact.

And the worst part of it is that it’s being entirely misused.

Narrow-minded, by all intents and purposes, is defined as being unwilling to listen or to tolerate other people’s views. So my question is, since when did believing fully in God and His scriptures automatically make me intolerant and unwilling to listen to others?

In a world that praises the acceptance of all people, why is it that my beliefs are the ones that are deemed unacceptable?

Ironically enough, it’s our society that has become narrow-minded if we’re going to apply that definition correctly.  While people today are so willing to extend freedom and acceptance to all genders, sexual orientations, belief systems, and personal values, it is they who are increasingly unwilling to listen to and be intolerant of those who believe in a narrow road, the one that Jesus warned us about [Matthew 7:13].

Agreement vs. Acceptance

In light of the recent controversy involving InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, I saw several hateful comments light up my social media feeds, all peppered with the term “narrow-minded”.

Scriptures about hell, money, and sexual sin are undoubtedly divisive, particularly in the Church.  And honestly, sometimes I wish the Bible said different things about them. The human part of me would love nothing more than to be “all-inclusive” in my beliefs and to nod along with others when they say “all religions are the same basically anyway,” or “It doesn’t really mean that, Good is only about love”.  But then I wouldn’t be following the God I read in the Bible. I’d be following myself and popular opinion. I’d be letting my itching ears hear only what they wanted and ignoring completely what God has said.

Acceptance and agreement are two very different things. I can accept you as a person, and seek to love you and value you more than myself in spite of our disagreements (and, by the way, as a Christian I am called to do that.). But agreeing with you in an effort to keep the peace and tell you what you (and the world) wants to hear? I can’t do that.

I think instead of fearing and revering God’s word, we’ve learned to carefully twist and select the passages that affirm us and our lifestyles without requiring change and true repentance.

Pastor Paul Washer explains this notion best when he asks, “Do we tremble at His word? Or do we look for loopholes around it?”

God’s word is a difficult thing to comprehend let alone to follow. Obeying it means surrendering my comfort, my love for social acceptance, and my control over my life. But the more I have come to know God and read His word, I’ve noticed something about His true followers.  

They didn’t argue over the accuracy of what Jesus said, they submitted to it. Even to the point of death.

They didn’t ask if they would fit in with society or worry about whose feelings would be hurt. They unabashedly proclaimed the Gospel and drowned out the fear of offending others and going against popular opinion with the fervency to serve a God bigger than them.

A God who means what He says.

A God who never changes.

A God that will spit us out if we’re teetering between wanting to please man or please Him.  

Regardless of if you agree with me or not, I’m willing to listen to you. I’m willing to hear you, and I have no intention of treating you any differently or loving you any less based on your set of beliefs.

I’m not sitting in a corner covering my ears and stomping my feet as you seek to explain why you believe what you do. I’ll listen. I’ll love you where you’re at. And I’ll seek to hear and understand your thoughts and feelings. And at the end of the day, we still might not agree and that’s okay.

Viewing God and His Word

Ultimately, it comes down to how you view scripture and how you view God.

Is His word a list of suggestions? An outdated text that needs to be re-written to accommodate modern times? Or is it the unfailing, inerrant, living and breathing word of God that beckons us to change rather than the other way around?

Is God our peer? Is He someone we can bargain with? A push-over that will give us what we want because He loves us? Or is He almighty, omnipotent, and worthy of our lives?

I’m not narrow-minded. What I am is a flawed, sinful woman who believes in a God that is bigger than myself. His thoughts are so far beyond mine and His ways go against much of what feels good to me. But He is God, and I am not.  

Disagree with me, demand an explanation, or say you don’t like what I hold to be true. That’s all fine. But don’t call me narrow-minded for trying to follow Jesus down the narrow road.