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 the road that leads to life and only a few find it.” Matthew 7: 13-14 (NIV)
There was a commercial a few years ago for financial planning that featured a wide green path and arrow to guide the investor along life’s path. As the investor strolls through the city, they were tempted to step off the path to pursue things that could hinder their ability to accomplish their long-term investment plans. The voice of the financial adviser coaches the investor to “just stay on the path.” The implication is that as long as the investor “stays on the path” they will realize their financial goals and live happily ever after. This commercial reminded me of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount concerning the two paths individuals can choose in life.
Jesus tells His listeners to, “Enter through the narrow gate.” The King James Bible version renders narrow as “strait.” Strait (stenos) refers to a narrowness created by obstacles standing close about. These obstacles could be the world’s view on how we are to enter God’s kingdom. Jesus’ point in this teaching is that the way to life is through a portal providing controlled access along a narrow way defined by God. In contrast, the wide highway represents the world’s “substitute” for the way of life. The end, of course, is death.
As I talk with believers about activities in their local churches, I am disturbed and heartbroken. The Church, which was created to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13), is choosing to “get off the path”. Churches across this country have abandoned teaching and preaching the “full counsel” of God for “trendy methods” of ministry. The “fervent prayers of the righteous” (James 5:16) have been replaced with small group discussions on why the church should practice religious tolerance. Churches are more concerned with not offending others than with grieving the Holy Spirit. Peter reminded the early church, that Christ Himself was “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence” (1 Peter 2:8).
It is extremely difficult to stay on the path of God when our modern culture and changing social norms are encouraging us to do otherwise. It is critical–life affecting–that we stand fast in our faith (1 Peter 5:12) and resist being lured to “enter through the wide gate.” Stay on the path until you reach your eternal goal of heaven. Remember, it is a narrow path that leads to life, and only a few find it.
Good to the Last Byte…
Do not be enticed by false teachings with their “faith-by-works, all-roads-lead-to-God” beliefs. Peter reminds us that we are a “peculiar” (God’s own) people chosen to proclaim God’s mighty acts (1 Peter 2:9).