In concluding one of the most well known discourses of His entire ministry, Jesus choose to end His sermon on the mount with these challenging words. He said:
“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)
This is an invitation into His Kingdom which leads to eternal life, but it’s not the most inviting invitation. We can walk into a great number of churches and listen to a great number of preachers on any given Sunday, and we will be given a much more welcoming invitation into the Kingdom of God than what Jesus offers us here.
Of all the words in the human vocabulary that Jesus could have used to invite people into His Kingdom. Of all the metaphorical images He could have given man to envision, Jesus chose to use the phrase "The Narrow Gate". (Give that some contemplative thought for a moment.)
It sounds constricting. It sounds confining. It sounds tight. It sounds limited. And immediately, we feel the tension.
We feel the tension because this is the dreaded accusation that our modern culture brings upon the Christian and the very label the Christian attempts to avoid. We have a fear of being stamped by the culture as 'narrow-minded'. And yet, our Lord chooses to fly it on the flag of His Kingdom.
So perhaps some self-examination needs to be exercised here:
Are we insecure or ashamed of being narrow people walking a narrow way of life preaching a narrow message? Do we seek to live a life and share a message that is actually much more accommodating than the life and message of our Lord and Savior? Have our efforts to make the gospel more convenient and comfortable blurred the Lord’s line in the sand concerning entrance into His Kingdom?
We have an obligation to give people more than an inspirational message that tickles their ears and warms their hearts. The wide road to destruction is full of people with a false sense of security about where they’re heading.
And this is what we have to respect about Jesus. Even if you choose to reject what He has to say, you can respect Him for His directness and honesty. He lays it out plainly before you and then simply asks you. “Here’s the only way to eternal life, Are you willing to embrace it?”
We ought to dedicate our lives to speaking the convicting truth about God with the concerned love of Christ. And it must always be a combination of the two. To speak the convicting truth without love is abusive and condemning. To speak a more comfortable truth in the name of love is misleading and deceptive. In his book, Onward, Russell Moore writes these words:
Although Jesus is clear that the gate is narrow, the path is hard and the travelers are few. We have reason to rejoice and be honest, because the gate is open, the path is available and the destination is eternal rest for all its faithful travelers.