Saturday, June 19, 2004

The Narrow Road

As Jesus approaches the end of what we know as the "Sermon on the Mount" he begins to apply what he has been saying to his listeners. He knows that it is not enough for them to sit and listen to him, they must make some decisions. This is not just another academic lecture, his words deal with the most important issues of life.

In Matthew 7:13-14 he speaks about two gates, two roads, two destinations, and two groups of travelers. We should notice that there are only two in each instance. There are not three or more options for us to consider at our leisure. We are in one of two camps whether we like it or not. Either we are listening to Jesus or we are heading in the wrong direction.

Of course, this in not very popular in Canada where "fence-sitting" is revered. We like to think that we are so wise and balanced, a people of moderation who carefully avoid extremes. There are times when this is commendable but not when it comes to Jesus. Either we are for him or we are against him. In his case truth does not depend on the opinion of the majority or even on what we may sincerely believe in our minds and hearts. Truth is what he says it is. In fact, he is truth, the very word of God made flesh who has come down from heaven.

With that in mind we need to pay attention when he tells us to: "Enter through the narrow gate." He is talking about entering the kingdom of heaven; the realm where God rules in the hearts of his people, the realm of salvation and eternal life. If we want to enter the kingdom of heaven we must be prepared to leave behind what is inconsistent with that kingdom. We must leave behind our love of sin, our unbelief, our selfishness, our rebellion against the one who is worthy of our praise. We must surrender ourselves totally to Jesus himself who alone is able to make us right with God.

It is especially important that we listen to Jesus because there is another alternative. There is a wide gate and a broad road. No restriction here. You can believe what you want and do what you want on this road. This is the road where no one is required to leave anything behind except the nasty notion that anyone else could ever possibly be wrong! The only problem is that this "user-friendly" road leads to destruction. Even though it is popular and heavily traveled, it lead to eternal separation from God; an end too terrible to contemplate.

The only other option according to Jesus is the small gate which leads to the narrow road which leads to life although only a few find it. One reason this road is narrow is because those who travel on it experience persecution and trouble. The Christian life is not easy. Through much tribulation we enter the kingdom (Acts 14:22). But in spite of the difficulties, it leads to life, everlasting life in the presence of God! No matter what the troubles of this route it will be worth it in the end. We may be sure of that.

On which road are you traveling? Are you on the way to life or destruction?

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I...I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference." -- Robert Frost

1 comment:

Nathan said...

Thumbs up to the Robert Frost quote. Quite enjoyable, and very apt. PS if you get a chance you should try and get ahold of Noel's sermon from last night. Not only was it good, he had a little comedy break that had me in tears laughing.