“Enter through the narrow gate, because the gate is wide and the way is spacious that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. But the gate is narrow and the way is difficult that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
These are the words of Christ after the Sermon on the Mount. He has shown His followers that there are two pathways available for everyone and has enjoined us to follow the narrow path and avoid the broad path.
From the statement of Christ, it is obvious that the narrow pathway leads to the Kingdom of Heaven while the broad way leads to Hell and destruction. He did not just point at the two pathways; He also gave the characteristics of the two pathways to enable us to make informed and wise decisions. He wants us to be prepared for the journey with an understanding of what lies ahead so that we will be able to navigate the difficult terrain and come out into life everlasting.
The narrow pathway is a difficult way that will eventually culminate in eternal life. It is a rocky way with lots of challenges, attacks, shame, and degradation. According to Charles Spurgeon, “The road of sorrow is the road of Heaven but there are wells of refreshing water along the route.” Because of the difficulties and persecutions that are experienced in the narrow pathway, many run away from it and only a few are ready to endure the pains associated with it.
It is very hard to find the narrow pathway because it takes meticulous effort to seek the Kingdom of God with its righteousness. This pathway is not popular and spacious, it is constricted and requires a lonely walk with Christ. It does not accommodate crowd and bandwagon movement. It is not classy but old-fashioned, and few people who are found in them are looked down upon and are seen as strange and awkward people. Society rejects and intimidates those who have resolved to follow this path because even though they live in this world, they are not of this world.
The narrow pathway is the way of the cross. Anyone who decides to follow this path must make up his or her mind to accept suffering and endurance as parts of Christian virtue. The old, rugged Cross, which is the emblem of shame and suffering, must be embraced and cherished by the followers of this narrow pathway. They must be controlled, restricted, and guided by biblical instructions. Regimented lifestyles and self-denial are not negotiable on this pathway.
Looking at the broad pathway, the gate is very wide. It was originally fashioned to accommodate the movement of crowds at the same time. One does not need to make a decision to join this pathway. Rather, people are attracted to it because it looks beautiful and popular. Some who joined this pathway followed their friends, business colleagues, and peer groups while others joined in their quest to find solutions to their earthly problems. People are lured into it because it promises easy lives, comfort, and luxury.
As a matter of fact, the broad pathway has so many attractive things. The road is spacious and not restrictive. Followers of this pathway can spiritually somersault, dance, jump and do all manners of acrobatic display because of the enormous space that this pathway offers. The pathway is inclusive and allows various views, theologies, principles, opinions, religions, and lifestyles of this world.
The possibility of living the broad pathway lifestyles and getting the reward of the narrow pathway is what I really do not understand. The two are parallel and can never meet. Christ categorically emphasized that we should opt for the narrow pathway. There is no in-between.
God respects the choice of His people. In the Old Testament, He gave the Israelites life and death, blessings and curses, to choose one and abandon the other. “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live” (Deuteronomy 30:19). One beautiful thing about the two scenarios is that choices were presented by God and the preferences were also selected to ensure that God's people do not make the wrong choices.
The command of Christ to believers to strive and enter the narrow gate does not in any way deny the fact that salvation is by grace alone. But we should understand that the choice that we make after coming to Christ is very important to God. We cannot surrender to Christ and choose the broad pathway all in the name of freedom in Christ. I believe that there are ethics and norms which should guide our conduct as Christians. Any contrary ideology is not of God.
Choices and decisions that people make today determine what their lives will look like tomorrow. If anyone has chosen to follow Jesus, why shouldn’t He complete the choice by choosing the narrow pathway? The choice to enter the narrow and constricted pathway is a command by Christ and should be adhered to strictly by anyone who desires to be counted among the few who shall find life.