“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few (Matthew 7:13-14, ESV).”
At first glance, the phrase “narrow gate” seems a bit presumptuous. I mean, when it comes to God’s grace and the Gospel, should it not be more welcoming? The answer, of course, is yes … but there is a catch: it is… but it is also not. That is the conundrum one faces when it comes to whether they are willing to choose the Way of Jesus as opposed to a litany of other options that pervade the culture we live in today.
As Pastor Mike pointed out in his sermon on Sunday, it does not take much for one go down the wide road. The truth is, it is far easier… at first. Inevitably, however, that “wide gate” and the road that follows eventually ends in emptiness, isolation, desolation, and a place we call Hell. And yet, that is not actually the point at all; it is just the harsh reality. The point is about the other gate. Jesus has opened another gate for us that, though narrow, leads to life abundant.
As Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:4-8 (ESV), “There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore, it says, ‘When He ascended on high, He led a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.’” In other words, “the measure of Christ’s gift” of His life, death, and resurrection gives every person in the world all we need to be in relationship with God for all of eternity. All we must do is repent of our sins and believe that Jesus is our one and only Lord and Savior.
I can remember times as a child when I would wish for the power to go out when it was stormy, just for the adventure of it. But as so many in Oregon and around the country have experienced this week, the adventure of extended power outages wears thin quickly. It gets cold, conveniences and necessities are inoperable, the food spoils, and lines of communication are cut off. And if it is paired with deep snow and ice, there is little ability to get to a better situation. What first might have felt like excitement, eventually leads toward danger.
In life, it almost always seems less burdensome to live without constraints, not letting anyone tell you what to do or think. But as Proverbs 14:12 (ESV) tells us, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.” At some point, we need to come to a decision which gate we will choose. I have heard it said that “Life with Jesus is simple but not easy; life without Him is easy but not simple.” The wide gate has nothing real to offer us.
As Paul warns us in 2 Timothy 4:3-5 (ESV), “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
So, in conclusion, seek to enter through the narrow gate. Because while it might seem easier to go through the wide gate that so many others walk through, the light at the end of the tunnel will never come unless you are traveling the Way that Jesus opened for us.
For as Jesus informs us in this passage from Matthew 7:13-14, though only a few might find the “narrow gate,” it is available and open to all. So choose well, and let the Holy Spirit show you just how wide open that narrow gate truly is.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF …
1. How have you been drawn to the “wide gate” in the past? What was the result?
2. What intrigues you about the “narrow gate?” What perplexes you about it?
3. Which road do you want to follow?