“Stay Gold!" Some of you recognize this line from, "The Outsiders". As Johnny Cade lays dying in the hospital, he says this to Ponyboy, referring to a Robert Frost poem. He meant, "Stay innocent, stay good. Don't lose the golden moment of beauty and purity like the sunrise that soon fades into day." As we walk through some of the last Words Jesus spoke in His Sermon on the Mount, Jesus starts by telling us to "Stay Gold" in His eyes as well. Matthew 7:12: What is this statement? The Golden Rule. It sounds so simple and short, but it must be massive, because He says all the Law and Prophets hang on it. Remember the context in which these words are spoken by Jesus. These words follow a series of commands and parables which tell us to stop being legalistic and focus on our hearts, or we've missed it. Specifically, after saying how God the Father does good things for those who ask – because He loves so much. Why would this command seem to be a summary of those words?
This is one of the most often heard quotes in our day to day lives. It usually follows as a corrective phrase when you or someone else has been done wrong. It is often understood by many, as with other religions, to be the Golden Rule of how to attain Salvation (by works). But, as with many Scriptures, we miss the full intent when not taken in the context in which spoken. A version of this Golden Rule can be found in other philosophical and religious writings:
The next passage Jesus teaches in this Sermon on the Mount seems to change from the topic of the heart to something entirely different at first glance; but is doesn’t—it is perfectly connected: Matthew 7:13-14. We have all heard this passage many times in our lives. I used to always picture two different roads—one wide, and one narrow; side by side—but I think a better representation is a narrow bumpy road, going straight uphill in the middle of the broad one. Against the flow, fighting the climb, facing oncoming traffic, and meeting resistance along the roadside. That is why it is so difficult. There are really at least two very important ways that our road is narrow and difficult: 1) Spiritually speaking, Jesus Christ, and all of Scriptures for that matter, tell us that Jesus' Sacrifice is the only way we can ever be made justified and righteous before a Holy God: John 14:5-6. Many people today will scream at us today, "That's a narrow-minded, judgmental, intolerant view” But does not almost every major religion and cult claim the same thing? "They" have the way to heaven. Many Christian cults even think we have missed the, "Narrow Way." There can be only one origin for our existence in this Universe, and no matter how many theories and self-satisfying ideas about our reason for being here, and where we go at death, that we come up with to make us feel good on this side of eternity. In the end, we will find that one true Source behind it all. It is not "narrow mindedness" that makes us choose one way only. It is the search for the One real truth, rather than self-made reality which appeases the heart and gives us the lifestyle we want. It may be narrow-minded to find only One Way, but it is out of touch with reality, and just plain self-induced ignorance that would say, "Choose anything that works for you, or you are intolerant." And it is even infinitely more ridiculous to take the Truth, when we do find it, and think we can manipulate It—manipulate Him—into something that pleases our view of how He should have done it in our eyes. We say there is Only One Way because reality demands it. And when science shows there had to be an Intelligence behind the complexity and design of it all; and when overwhelming predictive prophecy is show to be true in only One Way (through all real history and archeology); and when you have a Book which has unity, perseverance and Truths, which transcend all ability of man to write on their own; and when you have thousands who saw with their own eyes, and yet held to the Truth when it cost them everything; and when you've seen Him do some of the things we've seen Him do in our lives—that One Way is not a hard decision or risky way to take. The problem is, even with so much at stake, many will float through every day thinking other things are more important in life than deciding what is Truth, until they reach the end of the highway, and it is too late for the Journey. The only thing even more ridiculous than choosing the wrong way, or saying there are many ways, is simply not thinking it is important to decide at all. Thinking something as incredible as the existence of this Universe, and us in it; and the possible reason they take every breath; and the eternal condition in which they will exist based upon that Truth is not important enough to even debate and decide. That's why Jesus says even cold is better than lukewarm. 2) Materially speaking, the second way in which this road is narrow is in the fact that everything around us challenges, pushes and tempts us to leave this road and take the easy coast downhill on the highway around us. There are so many things that look fun and good along the way. So much room on the broad highway that looks like freedom to swerve around and have fun. So many roadside stops that look like nice amusement parks which we pass by. But the awesome reality that we often misunderstand is that each of these amusement parks along the way—all of this so-called freedom on the highway—is not only a distraction to keep us entertained until we run out of road—it is a short-lived, false joy, which turns into a trap of more imprisonment and pain than we can imagine—getting us to actually just choose, "another narrow way of slavery," that is not really freedom at all; that is not satisfying; that does not love us or help us as our master does; that always needs more and more, until we are used up and destroyed and we slide off the end of the road broken and rejected. It all comes back to what Jesus said earlier in His Sermon: Matthew 6:24. Everyone eventually chooses a "Master" along the highway of life—even if you think it is self. But my Master loves me more than anyone; my Master wants to lift me up to friend and beloved; my master served me first to show his love; my master still serves me more than I could ever serve him; my master wants my love and fellowship—not my pain and destruction.
So, I ask you—who is imprisoned and who is free on this highway? In these few incredibly life-changing verses, Jesus tells us there is only one way—Him alone—and that Way is full of love and freedom. But it will be hard, because the world will resist us every step of the journey. If you stop and think about it, we shouldn't want it any other way, because it is our chance to share in His pain and suffering on His journey that won us for Him. Anything worth having is worth the cost of the fight. And in these passages Jesus also tells us that if we see the awesomeness of the Prize at the end, it is not enough to simply keep our nose clean by, "not doing sinful things to others," but our new hearts in Him will be driven to step out and, "Do." Do for others in real love that only comes through Him. Do for others because they are worth it. Do for others because there is a world of people enslaved and being driven down the wrong road to destruction—and those people are touching our lives every day.
Let's end this sermon with song lyrics from a funny source, but with a powerful message: Rascal Flatts', "Life Is A Highway."
"Life's like a road that you travel on
When there's one day here and the next day gone
There's a world outside every darkened door
Where blues won't haunt you anymore
Where brave are free and lovers soar
Come ride with me to the distant shore...
Through all these cities and all these towns
It's in my blood, and it's all around
I love you now like I loved you then
This is the road, and these are the hands..."
There is no cruise control on the narrow road to Heaven. So, hold onto the wheel and "Stay Gold!"
Looking for something specific? Use our search bar below