One telling thing that a live fish can do, which a dead fish cannot, is to swim upriver against the stream. A dead fish can only go with the flow.
This picture is similar to what Jesus painted in Matthew 7:13-14. He had spoken extensively about the Kingdom life, about what it means to live a life wholly committed to God. Now, He says, after listening to all that, you have got to decide. Jesus knows that a deliberate choice has to be made. The way of destruction is the easy way. For it is broad, and so those on this path will find themselves alongside many others walking in the same direction. There may even be people in the church! (Jesus was addressing His disciples, not “unbelievers”).
It’s so much easier to go with the flow. Like dead fish.
On the other hand, the way to life is narrow. You will not enter it by drifting along; Think of the gate as the sort where only one can enter at a time: you have to make a personal decisive movement in the right direction. Perseverance is needed because the way is hard. Careful attention is required, because one must find it. Just so swimming upstream is difficult for a fish.
But it is a sign that one is alive.
Where life and death are involved, don’t be surprised or dismayed that Jesus would present us with such stark choices. Indecision and indifference automatically place you on the broad way to destruction. But He means to do us good. “Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; So turn, and live.” (Ezekiel 18:30b – 32)
Father, I have wasted so much time dilly-dallying with my faith. I claim to be a Christian, but in so much of my everyday life, there is nothing substantial that says I belong to you.
I have been serving mammon, and have been more anxious about not losing my comfort and convenience than about offending you.
My religion has been one self-absorbed masquerade. It is all hypocrisy, for I have focused on impressing others and avoiding their criticism.
You have been far from my thoughts. I have not taken your law seriously, and have scarcely tried to really obey them. I’ve just been following my own fears and desires.
I have no good fruit to show for my life. I am barren.
How can such a wretched person like me be saved?!
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
. . . . .
Postscript: Remember Pastor Dev’s exhortation! Seek out a good teacher who can help you on the way.