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Friday, June 16, 2017
The gate, not the road
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it."
This teaching comes in the midst of such things as not judging each other for what we have/don't have or do/don't do because of the damage this causes not only to the relationship we have with others, but what it does to have such discontent cultivated in our midst. There is a tendency to compare ourselves to each other, holding a man's actions or abilities as our "standard" by which we measure each other. It is a faulty standard at best and it builds this culture of discontent because we will soon realize others don't do as we do, nor do they have what we have. It also falls on the heels of each of us praying for the things we have need of in our lives, always trusting that God who knows our needs even before we ask stands at the ready to meet our every need. It is immediately after Jesus spent time reminding his hearers to do unto others as you would like them to also do unto you, not forgetting that this is the sum of all that is taught in the Law of God. At this juncture, he pauses to share the truth about two roads - one very well-worn and wide; the other narrow and traveled only by those who have discovered the wonder and joy of the destination awaiting them at the end of the journey.
I think it is no accident that Jesus puts this reminder of the "narrow road" after all this instruction to avoid comparison, not being afraid to express our heart to God, and the overarching principle of thinking how others can be blessed through our lives. We are examples of his grace and as such, we invite others to travel this narrow road. The wider road tolerates many of the actions and attitudes Jesus has just warned against - making it an "easy choice" for many. When I willingly begin to analyze my "place" in life by the actions of others, I can get onto this "super-highway" of comparison, envy, and bitterness pretty easily. I open the door to both an elevated view of myself at one moment and then a deflated image of who or what I am - leaving me riding a roller coaster of emotions and dealing with both elevated and diminished pride at sometimes the same time. It makes the "easy journey" an up and down ride, to say the least, but it is still the "easiest" ride to embark upon!
I don't want us to miss what Jesus said here, though - because I think we think the road to life with Jesus is very, very narrow - almost "confining" sometimes. It doesn't say the road is narrow, it says the "gateway" onto that road is! I have narrowly squeezed through some spaces on my travels as I hike up into beautiful, wide open meadows that would have been totally missed had I not gone through the narrow opening of the gateway in order to get there! The journey beyond the gate isn't as narrow as we might at first imagine! It is just that in order to embark upon the journey we lay down the stuff that shouldn't go with us on the journey down that roadway! We leave behind our pride, bitterness, anger, comparison, etc. We let go of the burdens we have "packaged" into our lives that just distract or weigh us down. Then we can pass through the narrow gate into the vast expanse of God's love, provision, and protection - the roadway of grace that leads into the vast meadows of limitless rest, purposeful peace, and tremendous provision beyond all we might have compared our lives to in the past!
It isn't the roadway we should consider as much as what we desperately need to lay down to enter the gateway! Just sayin!