Come to God through the narrow gate, because the wide gate and broad path is the way that leads to destruction— nearly everyone chooses that crowded road! Matthew 7:13 (TPT)
Being a Christian – The Roads and Gates Series – Part 4
I think the conversation around this verse has reduced it to a very specific, dogmatic list of “do’s and dont’s.”
“Walking through the narrow gate looks like “X, Y, and Z.”
While there definitely are some defining characteristics of walking the “narrow way,” it can’t be contained in a limited list of behaviors and achievements.
I’ve also heard people use this verse to back up the idea that being a Christian is really, really hard. The hardest kind of life you can live.
But is it really?
I can think of at least ten situations off the top of my head that would make my life much harder to bear, and being a Christian isn’t one of them.
One of the hardest things to go through in life is, in fact, change and transformation. Think about it. Often, trauma is the result of sudden and unexpected dramatic change in situation, world view, geography, security, family and more. Sometimes we do all we can to put off change, skirt around it… avoid it. And while “new beginnings” can sound attractive and refreshing, they hardly come about easily and without discomfort.
Our addiction to pain medication, other forms of medicating, fad diets, fad money makers, anything promising fast results, should tell us that transformation is not something we go through super willingly.
Transformation usually happens when something old falls apart. We’re forced into it, in a way, primarily because we would never enter into it purely of our own accord. If I were to ask you what events have significantly shaped your life and world view, you’re probably not going to come back to me with a nice anecdotal story about the last time you were on holiday. For me, it’s been the “edge-of-life” experiences and circumstances that have deeply transformed and shaped me. The hard stuff.
Transformation is a narrow, difficult, hard journey to take. It’s one that we can choose to embrace or ignore. It’s one where we can surrender our need for control and security, or where we can white-knuckle on to the old until it is torn from our fingers painfully and at great cost.
We are a culture of efficiency and speed, impatient with gradual and incremental growth. Put off by interior work that often takes time, contemplation, and vulnerability. Pain, any kind of deconstruction and change invites us to listen on a deeper level and to participate in the transformation happening within us and around us. It’s a beautiful, difficult chaos.
Richard Rohr says, “This is when you need patience, guidance, and the freedom to let go instead of tightening your controls and certitudes. Perhaps Jesus is describing this phenomenon when he says, “It is a narrow gate and a hard road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14).”
It's a life long “finding,” of surrendering to the process of God at work in us. But WE choose that posture of surrender. We choose to open the gate and walk upon the narrow road. And really, what other choice is there to make?
Elisabeth Elliot said: “One does not surrender a life in an instant. That which is lifelong can only be surrendered in a lifetime.”
Go to Part 5 – Your Own Eye »
Written by Lizzy Milani
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