PASTOR'S PEN: The wrong door

While on a recent trip to see my parents, I rented a car to go from the Baltimore airport to their home in Delaware.

After obtaining the paperwork for my reserved vehicle, I located what would be my ride for the next few days. It was silver, sporty-looking and seemed relatively new. I got inside and after talking to someone beside me, figured out I needed to press the brake for the push start to work. I drove for a little over an hour before stopping at a fast food place to grab some lunch. I went inside, got my food and decided to eat as I drove. I went out to the parking lot where my silver car was sitting. I pressed the unlock button, tried the door and it wouldn’t open. I tried again. Still nothing. I pushed the button a few more times. Nothing. I noticed a key hole in the door, but the fob for the car had no key.

I was thinking I would have to call the rental agency to figure out how to get into the car! I began pushing the lock, unlock and trunk buttons. Still nothing. I tried the back passenger door. Locked. I went to the other side and tried the back door there. Locked. I then reached for the front door on the passenger side. As I did I heard a man yell out, "You won’t get in that car!" I looked up and saw an older couple walking toward the car. I then looked over. About three or four spaces away sat another silver, sporty looking car — my rental car. I had been getting frustrated trying to make my key fab work for the wrong car! No matter how many times I tried, it just wasn’t going to happen.

When trying to get in that car I was doing all the right things: I pushed the right button and I lifted the handle. Pretty simple. In fact, I did the right thing several times. But doing the right thing didn’t matter because I was at the wrong car. Many people are doing lots of good things. They help their neighbor. They care for others. They put money in the Salvation Army bucket. They watch their language. They teach their children to be respectful. They are really nice people and they expect that doing all those right things will get them into heaven. But Christ had something to say about that:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your Name, and in Your Name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from Me, you evildoers!’” (Matthew 7:21-23)

Those are pretty straightforward words. There were religious leaders in Jesus’ day doing things that were good, just like there are today; but many were leading people astray. They were ‘blind guides’ showing people a path away from Jesus Christ and the Word of God rather than toward it. They may have used God’s Word, but they weren’t getting into heaven. Ephesians 2:9 tells us that we’re “not saved by works, so that no one can boast.” All the right things you do won’t open the door that leads to heaven. Those deeds, without Jesus Christ, will open a different door:

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14).

Think very carefully. This is a serious and vital question: Which gate are you opening? If you’re not certain read Romans 10:8-9 for some guidance.