For those who grew up in the Church, are there specific visuals from scripture that sank in the deepest? One of the most vivid for me is when Jesus talked about the small gate and narrow road. It wasn’t until the last few years that I started to understand it differently.
“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)
Most people will go to Hell. Very few people will go to Heaven. The majority of all humans to ever live will be separated from God for eternity. A small minority will figure out the right gate and road and live forever. Make sure to check the right box.
I always read “destruction” in a final sense, yet many commentaries describe it in a present sense: “the loss of all that makes life precious, the wretchedness of a wasted life.”
Isn’t that the path of so much of the world? Brokenness, sadness, despair, fear, and on and on. “For the wages of sin is death...” Every day, a subtle dying, whether obvious or not, there is a cancer of the soul for those who choose the broad path.
It’s also very satisfying to our modern, rational minds to look at a binary like this and identify with the “right” option. Our egos love it, and it’s an easy way to feel comfortable about our standing. “I picked the correct gate and road!” I don’t have anything to worry about now.
But wisdom is beyond the either/or, though. Wisdom says every person, regardless of where they are on the journey, is always in need of finding the narrow gate. Any given day, the broad gate will seem attractive.
The gate and the path exist as reference points, metaphors for living, a lens through which to view my life and spiritual journey. Not just some simple way of describing who’s in and who’s out.
There are days I’ve walked the broad road. There are days I’ve walked the narrow road. I’ve felt the “destruction,” the loss of what makes life precious. I’ve felt the richness of eternal life here and now.
Every time I harbor unforgiveness, bitterness, cynicism, judgment, every time I refuse to seek God in all things, to let fear triumph over love, the path gets broad.
When I choose love, when I forgive my enemies, seek God in all things, show compassion to my neighbor, turn from the things that are distracting me from God, I join the “few” on that narrow road.