Words and music by Shaun Groves
This way is paved with tears
Shed for two thousand years
Wrung from the saints sincere
Martyred and mourned
Spirit who scorched their veins
Burn in my bones the same
Bid me to earn their chains
And take the cross of my Lord, my Lord and
Give up the whole wide world
Give up the whole wide world
For my share of blessing and beauty and bloodshed
And wonders and woes
The wonders and woes of the narrow
Of the narrow
This way is eased with song
Sung where we don't belong
Sung till the weak are strong
And home with my Lord, my Lord
Take my life
Pour me out
Story Behind The Song:
MATTHEW 5:10-12 "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you."
The faces on that hillside 2,000 years ago must have been etched with a mixture of anger and bewilderment at this point in Jesus' sermon. And, to be honest, He had irreparably ruined his chances of a large altar call or good merchandise sales. Poverty, mourning, surrender, showing mercy to the trash of this world, severing ties with it as well, and now being kind to those brutes the Romans?
Then Jesus issues his most repulsive blessing yet, the one that will insure Him few followers. "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness." He promises that if we follow Him in the seven ways just described, we will be persecuted, a word that means to be pursued with intent to physically harm or kill. We can be certain that a life beginning with admitted poverty and eventually dedicated to mercy showing, allegiance cutting and peace making will cost us greatly. It seems that while we in Christian ministry/industry focus so much on lowering the bar and widening the way in order to increase the numbers of converts, amount of revenue, and acceptance of our faith, Jesus does the opposite. He makes sure the thousands listening to Him then and today realize His way is narrow and the bar is too high to ever be popular.
I forget sometimes that the cross is not just the place where Jesus laid down his life and His perfection to buy mine. It is also a symbol of what happens to the faithful when the pursuit of righteousness collides with Caesar, displeases the crowd and riles up the religious. Following Christ means, in part, following in His footsteps knowing they may lead us to Golgotha .
This causes me to think of the beatitudes, this corridor to Christ-likeness, as a funnel growing more and more confining and difficult to traverse as I walk it. Millions stand at its wide opening and readily admit they are flawed. Many of those, but not all, will stop to mourn and regret their wickedness in our upbeat and positive culture. Many of those, but not all, will roll that shame and sadness into the strong grasp of Jesus. Many of those, but not all, will spend their life chasing after something more than an SUV and a house in the suburbs. Some of those, but not all, will see the needs around them and stop to help, live like a citizen of Heaven and not of earth, and pour love and not loathing on those who intend them harm.
These words of Jesus, preached from an ancient mountainside, if lived out, transform us and our faith into something truly alien, something truly worthy of disdain from pagans and puritans alike. If followed, they might lead us to failure and not success as defined by our culture. And if obeyed, they will birth us a difficult and dangerous life characterized by poverty, scorn, bruises and even death. This is the abundant life we were created for. But this way is narrow.
©2005 New Spring Publishing, Inc./ASCAP (all rights administered by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)