Are Christians 'Narrow'?

Christians are often accused of being 'narrow' these days: "narrow-minded", "intolerant", "inflexible" and all that stuff. But during these last few decades, living and ministering in good ol' "open-minded" California, I've done a lot of thinking on that subject. And here's what I've come up with. Maybe it will strike a chord with you in your particular setting as well. 

To begin with, I'd like to know what's so petrifying about 'narrow' in the first place? After all, 90% of the time, we want 'narrow', don't we? These days, whenever I step onto a 747, I'm awfully glad that someone has been a little 'narrow' about who they are allowing to board that plane and what they get to carry on with them. And, by the way, I guess I'm also glad that our pilots have attended flight schools that were somewhat 'narrow' in their certification process. 

Am I the only one who thinks that 'narrow' is okay? 

'Narrow' works well for surgeries, too, don't you think? And for pharmacies; for the health-codes in restaurants; for the safety standards of vehicles; for building codes and day-care certifications and nursing home standards and public school credentials. No, I think 'narrow' works pretty well most of the time. Life is actually quite a bit better because of 'narrow'—broadly speaking that is.

If Christians are 'narrow' about what makes life right and safe and good, well, I don't see that they're being much different from the rest of the world. 

But the argument still persists, of course, that Christians are 'narrow-minded' in their insistence upon 'one way' and in their 'slavish' adherence to Christ as the only Savior. And that is something that needs to be explored. Does that really make them 'narrow'? Let's take a look...

In fact, Christians may be the only people on earth who are not narrow-minded! 

First of all, what does it mean to be narrow-minded? A narrow-minded person is one whose view of the Truth is completely controlled by his own prejudices, perceptions, and impulses. He doesn't accept other people's views because his own personal views dominate his thinking. His own natural impulses control his choices and his behavior—he can't see beyond them. That's the 'narrow-minded' person. And, truly, it is pretty ugly.

But interestingly enough; with that definition in mind, Christians actually look incredibly broad-minded! After all, the Christian is the one who has come to admit that his own views of life are not to be trusted; that his own impulses are wrong; that he actually needs to be changed! That same distrust of his own personal perspective is what guides the Christian all through his life. 

Take the average person's perspective on life, for example, which tells him to live for himself, satisfy himself, and look to his own needs. The Christian has had to set that aside, because Christ has told him to "deny himself, take up a cross and follow Me." Mt 16:24

When the average person succeeds at something important, his first impulse is to congratulate himself and revel in the end zone. The Christian gets down on one knee and points up to the sky! The Christian wants all the glory to go to Another! 

Wow! That looks rather 'broad'! 

When the average person does wrong, his first impulse is to find an excuse, blame someone else, or justify himself and salvage his pride. But the Christian doesn't give in to such impulses: he's learned from God's Word to say: "I was wrong"; "that was a sin"; "forgive me, Lord". 

Hmm. Nothing 'narrow' about that, is there? 

When the average person is mistreated or abused, his view of life—in fact, every fiber of his being—tells him to "get even"; "strike back". But the Christian refuses to give in to such thoughts. He remembers what the Word of God says: "Do not return evil for evil..." Rom 12: 17; "For if you do not forgive men their sins against you, your Father in Heaven will not forgive you." Mt 11:26

Surrounded by moral and spiritual corruption, the average person just gives in to it and goes along with the crowd. After all, everybody else is doing it! "Majority rules", right? "Safety in numbers" and all that stuff. So, what's the big deal? It's a natural impulse, of course; just as common as can be. 

But it's an impulse the Christian refuses to yield to! After all, how "narrow-minded" that would be—to let personal impulses rule us like that! No, no! The Christian follows the leading of the One who has told us all: "You be holy, as I am holy". 1 Pet 1: 16

Listen dear Christian: don't let anyone tell you, you're 'narrow'! If you've given up your 'self' in surrender to Jesus—if you've yielded your thoughts and prejudices and impulses to Him— just might be one of the few truly "broad-minded" people left on this planet! 

And that makes it a great honor to know you! 

See you Sunday!                              RAS

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