“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)
This is, for me, one of the most difficult passages in all of scripture to reconcile with the 21st Century Western Church. Becoming a Christian has never been easier. Access to the scriptures has never been higher. And expectations of new believers has probably never been lower.
That’s not to say that church work is easier. We spend billions of dollars to make our sanctuaries more like a concert venue. We choose only the coolest of musicians and singers. Our pulpits have become stages—with the latest in lighting, and even fog—upon which we promote our Savior.
Don’t misunderstand me. I am not necessarily against using the “latest and greatest.” As a musician and Audio Technician, I love and appreciate much of the music that is circulating through our houses of worship. I’m blessed when I hear some of the old hymns being revitalized and made, perhaps, more relevant to this generation.
I have to question, however, whether of our concert-venue services are providing an experience that lacks fellowship and accountability—providing dessert before the meal, and the meal before the work of growing the food.
When Jesus said that the Christian life is hard and few find it, was He only talking about Christian life in the first half of the first century? Do the words in red remain as true now as they were when they were first heard leaving the lips of the Christ? If so, I am much in need of repentance. And I am much in need of repentance!
Jesus spoke of two gates. I imagine that one is made of shiny gold and covered with beautiful, sparkly gemstones. This gate looks amazing! And when it swings open it welcomes the masses. No worries, overcrowding is not an issue. The gate is wide. We never inquire where the gate leads. It’s beautiful! It must lead somewhere good.
I picture the other gate as constructed of weather-worn wood. It is secured by rusty hinges and a rusty latch. There’s not much of a pathway leading up to it the ground is rocky, with loops of tree roots hidden just enough by the copious weeds to threaten a fall. Things don’t really look much better on the other side of the gate. Rough ground. Dangerous terrain. A difficult passage to be sure.
It’s not hard to understand why one would choose the beautiful gate. We all want to have beautiful, tidy lives. I know that I sure do! The problem is not that Jesus said the narrow way might be difficult. It’s that He said it would be difficult.
I’ve got to tell you: this is a hard saying. The question is, are we going to choose a path that is easy regardless of the destination? Or are we going to choose to walk a different path? A difficult path.
I’m still not entirely sure what to make of Jesus’ words in this passage. I genuinely struggle with what it means to choose the narrow gate. It just keeps going around in my mind that it’s not supposed to be easy.
So why does it seem to be?
How does this passage make you feel? Do you find it hard to be a Christian? Let me know by leaving a comment.
These are the musings of a mindful disciple. Blessings on your week!
Image by Brian Clark from Pixabay