Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad
is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many
who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult
is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.
This is a couple of verses that have been weighing heavy on my soul over the past couple of months. As I see the world spiraling out of control, I sense our Lord speaking these words as a dire warning to all who would hear. And among those who need to hear it most are self-professed Christians.
I fear that so many Christians in America dismiss this passage; thinking that it pertains to the lost. They think that Jesus is saying it is a narrow gate that leads to salvation, and only Christians will enter it. The lost of the world will take the broad path because it is easier, more attractive and less demanding. And in the broadest sense, they are correct. There are only two choices: right and wrong; good and evil; the way to heaven or the road to hell. There is no middle ground. You either choose Jesus or you don't.
But I believe He is telling us so much more in this discourse. I believe He is talking directly to Christians and admonishing them to take their faith seriously. Yes, the gate is narrow because accepting Christ as your Savior should not be taken lightly. You must truly become a new person with a new heart and a new spirit; old desires must be purged and a new life begun.
Just because you've entered through that narrow gate of people who will answer His knock and accept Him, does not mean that you're home free. Once you've taken that first step, the real work begins. That's when all the old temptations will entice us and believe me, that is the wide gate Jesus is referring to. There are far too many "Christians" who take the easy road once they've made their profession of faith.
You hear it in our churches today ... the likes of preachers such as Joel Osteen, who falsely teaches that anyone can be accepted into heaven, and since no one would be accepted if we are called to be “holy” then all have to be accepted. Kind of sounds like a "wide" gate, doesn't it?
But Pastor Osteen is not alone. There are far too many pulpits who refuse to proclaim that the "wages of sin is death", because after all that would be judging others, and we are not to judge. And of course, the idea of calling out a fellow Christian's sin or requiring repentance is just part of that "too narrow" focus. But notice that Jesus says this broad emphasis leads to destruction and there are many who will go in by it. He's talking to Christians! If you don't know what He and the Father ask of you in return for your salvation, you better start reading your Bible!
The problem is, these pastors want to make it easy for you. They don't want to make being a follower of Jesus Christ too hard, or they won't get the numbers to fill their religious palaces each Sunday. So they soft-sell the Gospel and by doing so, they are leading their flocks astray. Jesus tells us in this passage that the narrow gate means you will need to live a life that is demanding and at times difficult. It will be a struggle to avoid the traps and snares and temptations that the world and the Enemy offers; and far too easy to wander off His path. And ultimately, He tells us that few will find that narrow gate because they don't really want to enter it. They will be looking for something a little easier to find; the entrance to the Good Life.