“Enter through the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Mathew 7: 13-14.)
In the ancient world, cities were places of safety and refuge. Most were surrounded by large walls designed to protect the inhabitants from hostile enemies. The size of the walls depended on the prosperity of the city. Babylon, (one of the wealthiest cities in the ancient world), was rumored to have had walls that were 80 ft. thick and 320 feet high (15 feet taller than the Statue of Liberty.) Every ancient city had one main gate (a large opening in the wall through which the majority of merchants, travelers, and citizens could freely pass.) There were also many smaller gates that served a number of different purposes. There were gates for livestock; gates for horses; gates for importing fish; and gates used to export garbage; many of these little gates were not connected to the major highway, and were more difficult to reach. Most entered through the main gate because it was quick, easy, and convenient. The road to eternal separation from God is also quick, easy, and convenient; but the way to eternal life is difficult; it requires great discipline, sacrifice, and selflessness.
As a child and adolescent, my mother brought me to church quite regularly; however, despite many hours spent kneeling, standing, sitting and praying, I never heard anyone truly preach the gospel (at least not the whole gospel.) I knew about Christ’s forgiveness and love; I was aware that he died for the sins of the world. I understood the work of the cross, and the free gift of salvation. I had learned about what God had done for me, and so I had comprehended the first half of the gospel message. When I was in my twenties a friend took me to a church service; it was there that I finally heard the remaining half the message. God expected something from me; I was required to repent and obey. I had to turn away from fornication, adultery, drunkenness, lewdness, and deceit. There in that church auditorium, I knew in my Spirit that I had to change.
At one point during Christ’s earthly ministry, he chose to spend the evening in the home of a notorious sinner named Zacchaeus. Zacchaeus was a corrupt tax-collector. He had amassed a fortune by overtaxing his own countrymen. During the night, Jesus presented Zacchaeus with the whole gospel; and he received it gladly. He immediately repented of his evil deeds and offered half of his wealth to the poor; he also promised to repay everyone from whom he had stolen.
Zacchaeus understood the full gospel message; he received the gift of salvation and immediately obeyed the teachings of Christ. Most today refuse to repent; 78.4 percent of Americans claim to be Christian; yet 60 percent of young adult Christians believe that premarital sex and cohabitation are morally okay (to name just one of many ungodly behaviors.) Millions are self-deceived; believing themselves’ to be Christians when they are not; they seek to enter through the wide gate because it is easy and convenient; it requires very little sacrifice; but it leads to eternal separation from God. Few choose the narrow path; it is very difficult; it requires repentance and demands transformation; but it leads to everlasting life. Which path are you taking? Are you willing to embrace the complete gospel and to become a follower of Jesus Christ? If you are, then remember that “God never claimed the journey would be easy; but He did say it would be worth it.”
“Lord Heavenly Father, we receive Your gift, and we take hold of Your sacrifice; may we turn away from the ways of the world, and embrace the commandments of Your one and only Son. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit and give us the courage and strength to travel the narrow path; the path of righteousness; the path of repentance and transformation; the path that leads to Your eternal Kingdom; have mercy on us, that we may enter Your dwelling place with joy and thanksgiving. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You; and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name. Amen.” God bless all of you.