Making Our Own Paths
The people of Israel had rejected everything that The Lord had asked of them. They refused to follow His plan and instead devised their own ideas of how to live life and obtain blessing. They didn't want the responsibility of having to answer to God for their lifestyle and actions.
We are not much different today only we are more "spiritual" about it. We don't like the path of discipleship that God has laid down for us. We don't like the "Narrow, difficult" path to life. We want a broader, easier path that produces the same results. We preach a message of grace without holiness, discipleship without sacrifice and worship without surrender. We call it being relevant or being open to seekers. After all, aren't we living in a new generation where old paradigms just won't work. People today are smarter, savvier, and more wary of legalism and religious traps. The truth is that we feel that the old message of discipleship will scare people away and we will be left with empty churches that reach no one with the Gospel. So we water discipleship down to social concern and philanthropy. As long as we help the poor and make it to church every now and again, we are doing our duty as followers of Jesus.
The Old Ways
Jeremiah reminds us here that the only way that God will accept is the old way. The way of discipleship that Jesus taught and modeled. Leave all, give all, serve all, love all and expect nothing in return this side of heaven. The problem for us is, we can't have it God's way and our way. It's God's way or no way. Jesus didn't leave us the option to present some better ideas to him. He told us what he expects and if we walk away he won't chase us down with a "better deal". If you want to be a disciple, it will cost you everything. That is what he told the rich young man (whom by the way "he loved very much" Mk. 10:21). Jesus just watched him walk away. Why didn't he go after him and "explain" it to him, I would have. I would have said something like, "hey, we can walk through this thing together. Baby steps. God knows how difficult this is for you and the pressure and responsibility that is on you. Just take a faith step and do what you can and as your faith grows you can release more and obey more completely what Jesus was commanding you. God is kind and merciful, he will accept you as you are just trust him." Jesus didn't do any of that, he just shook his head and said, it sure is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven". He went on to say to all of us, "It is very hard to get into the Kingdom of God."
The Narrow Road
If Jesus himself said it was hard, the road narrow and difficult, then why do we try to make it wide and easy?
As difficult and narrow as it may be, Jeremiah tells us that the "old road" is the only one that leads to life and where we find rest for our souls.
This is what the Lord says: “Stop at the crossroads and look around. Ask for the old, godly way, and walk in it. Travel its path, and you will find rest for your souls. But you reply, ‘No, that’s not the road we want!’ (Jeremiah 6:16 NLT)
Pastors Phil Harris of Epikos Church in Bend, Oregon.