Before the days of GPS it was a constant struggle to stay on the right road. All the maps in the lap, didn’t seem to assure me that I was heading in the right direction. Even with the GPS update, I’ve still had some times when I either entered something wrong or the maps got it wrong so that I ended up in some place a long way from where I had intended to go. Spiritually it is the same problem. We can easily get off on the wrong road in our spiritual life and be moving further away from God and His will when we believe we are heading in the right direction.
A key passage in the Sermon on the Mount is found in Matthew 7:13-14 where Jesus said, “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.” In many ways this seems to be a strange teaching. After all Jesus invited everyone who is weary and burdened down in life to come to him to have rest to our soul. He even declared that his yoke is easy and his burden is light. His plea was for us to take his yoke and learn of him. So the narrow road isn’t found by only a few because there aren’t many invited. Everyone is invited. Also, it isn’t the case that not many enter that way because preparation hasn’t been made for them to be saved. Jesus went to the cross to taste death for every person according to Hebrews 2:9. When he gave the disciples his great commission it was to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature and he who believes and is baptized will be saved (Mark 16:15-16). Matthew’s account of that same commission was as you go into all the world, make disciples from every ethnic group, baptizing them into the name of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you and I will be with you always even to the end of the age. He wouldn’t have commissioned us to carry the gospel to all people if only a select group of them could be saved anyway.
So, why do the majority of people travel through the wide gate and travel the broad way that leads to destruction? Do they not realize the destination? Imagine meeting someone at a convenience store who is getting gas and you ask them where they are going. They tell you they really don’t know where they are going, but it is such a nice, wide road that is so well kept and easy to drive they are just traveling on it without any view to a destination. What if you then said to them, “Do you realize that there is a bridge out twenty miles down the road and there aren’t any exits between here and there, so it is extremely dangerous and not well marked before you come to the missing bridge?” What would you think if their response was, “Well, it is such a good road and so well kept, I think we will just keep going and take our chances on the future?” Most of us would be amazed that anyone would be so thoughtless in light of the warning that you gave them. You would likely asked yourself, “Did they not believe me? Should I have been clearer? Should I have tried to stop them and described what it was like if you went off the end where the bridge was supposed to be?” I often feel that same frustration when talking with someone who is living in sin and makes no attempt to change their life even though they will tell you that they know that if they died as they are they would be lost forever.
So, why do people stay on the broad road? I am sure there are tons of reasons. Some stay because it is such an easy road and there is plenty of room on it for them to do as they please and still travel it. Some stay on that way because of all their friends and family that are there and they don’t want to leave them. Some stay on that road because the Narrow road seems so difficult to them and they just don’t really believe that they could travel that road.
Just how narrow is the gate and road in that way that leads to eternal life? It is wide enough for anyone who out of faith in Christ as Savior and Lord, turns from their sins to God in repentance and declares their faith in Jesus, being baptized into Christ where they rise to walk in newness of life. It is wide enough for me to travel with all my friends and family that make the same commitment to God. It is wide enough for people to travel it that are weak and struggling, but who put their faith in Christ and walk in his way, being forgiven of their sins and failures as they are cleansed by the blood of Jesus. It is wide enough for a person who comes to Christ to never stumble or fall on it. Peter said that if we as followers of Christ add to our faith goodness, to goodness knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control, perseverance and to perseverance, godliness, to godliness, mutual affection and to mutual affection love, we will be fruitful in our service to God and will make our calling and election sure, thus assuring that we will never stumble or fall and will have an abundant entrance into the eternal kingdom (2 Peter 1:5-11).
The narrow road is so narrow that I need the help of the Holy Spirit to walk that way faithfully. I can’t do it on my own. For that reason at the moment we out of faith are baptized into Christ God gives us the Holy Spirit to dwell in us, strengthen us, help and lead us in the way we should go. Paul said the Spirit helps us in all our weaknesses in Romans 8:26. Besides that Jesus promises to never leave or forsake us so that we may boldly say, “the Lord is our helper, I will not fear what man can do to me.” We have God as our father who listens to our prayers, and blesses us as we live for him. He even measures the temptations that can come our way to make certain we aren’t tempted beyond our ability to overcome it. On top of all of that we have the help and encouragement of every other Christian that is part of the same family of believers and is part of the body of Christ alongside us. One of the greatest charges of the New Testament relates to how many times and ways God tells us to help one another in living the life he calls us to live. This life on the narrow road is called by Jesus the abundant life. It is the life where we have all spiritual blessings that heaven has to offer a person. Jesus said that in this world as we live that life we receive back a hundred times over everything we give up to follow him and on top of that, in the world to come we have eternal life.
It is certainly understandable that people talk lots about the blessings that we will receive in heaven when this life is over. That is after all the destination for everyone on that narrow road. But sometimes we are so intent on the life to come we miss out on the marvelous blessings that are here and now for those who live in Christ. By far the greatest, happiest, fullest and most blessed life anyone can live in the here and now is the life for God walking the narrow road that leads to life.
It is vital that we be careful and check the road that we are on using the GPS of God’s word to guide us, because Satan constantly is working to convince those on the broad road that they really are on the narrow road that leads to life. It may well be that many will not be aware they were on the wrong road until they reach their destination.