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)
The Wide Gate – The Roads and Gates Series – Part 3
Take the road less traveled by, as Robert Frost so poetically encouraged us to do (see Part 1).
Jesus urged his listeners to go through the ’narrow gate and the difficult way.’ To a war-torn nation, weighed down by years of oppression, exhausted and disappointed by age-old promises that remained unfulfilled; Jesus encouraged them not to do something that seemed foreign and almost hilarious within the context of their social and political situation. Love? Peace? Forgive? Narrow. Difficult. A way less traveled.
The word used in Matthew 7 in the King James translation is ‘strait,’ which has a different meaning to the word ‘straight.’
Straight means “not crooked, unbent, upright, honest, honorable in conduct.” Strait means “a difficult and or narrow passageway; a confined area.” There are many bodies of water around the world called a ‘strait’ because they are narrow and difficult to navigate. Jesus is not specifically talking about our ability to be perfect, but to make choices about our lives that take us down his way of faith, hope, and love. It has behavioral implications, but its heart is more like what Romans 12:2 talks about: “Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think…”
It’s difficult to sail through the narrow strait of loving your enemy. It’s difficult to forgive your oppressor. It’s difficult to pray rather than worry. It’s hard work to shift your value from the material to the unseen. It’s hard to see the kingdom of God in the midst of violence, to ask questions in a world of conformity, to knock on doors that seem deadlocked, to seek peace and generosity and kindness when you’re experiencing the opposite.
When I was bullied in High School, I wanted to see that bully suffer. It went against my hurt and pain to love and pray for them. When I’ve received bills I had no idea how I’d be able to pay them, it’s been difficult to be generous to my neighbors. When my dreams seem distant and ridiculous and unsupported, it’s hard to celebrate the success of others or to trust that voice of faith in my heart that whispers assuredly “keep on going, you were born for such a time as this…”
And this narrow way, the road less traveled, it may not be entirely worn and easy to tread upon, it may have tangled branches falling on our way from the lack of sojourners. But it’s God’s desire that it becomes THE WAY; the road that is traveled more often than not. A road well marked and mapped out by our lives.
“The wide gate and broad path is the way that leads to destruction…” And for the Jews, that’s exactly what happened. Forty years after Jesus ascended, a rebellion rose up against Rome. Emperor Titus vanquished it, almost flattening Jerusalem in response.
Whenever we react with pain, offense, shame, guilt and hate, it leads to horrific ends. Sometimes the destruction stays within our hearts, sometimes it spills out onto the world around us, spreading destruction into the hearts and lives of others.
But when we choose kindness over winning, generosity over selfishness, mercy over judgment, compassion over hate… when we strengthen our arms not to wield swords but to pick others up, to hold not break apart… we choose that narrow way, the road less traveled. The road that beckons to us all through faith and grace.
Paved not by the blood of our enemies, but by the resurrection life of Christ.
Written by Lizzy Milani
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