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Which gate will I enter? My decision will determine how I live my life.
"Enter by 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."
Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV
Enter By the Narrow Gate
Isn't it odd! Jesus was facing a very large crowd, and suddenly without warning he said most folks were going down the broad road heading toward destruction. And very few of them would find and enter the gateway to life!
That's a harsh assessment; certainly not complimentary. Most of the people Jesus was looking at just didn't get it. They had heard his words and seen his miracles of healing, and yet, it did not change their lives. Everything they had seen and heard, made no difference. It was all to no effect. They were still on that road with the broad gate and lots of company!
Dare I say it? We are much like those people of Galilee. Throughout the printed pages of the Gospels, Jesus is speaking to us the very same message he preached long ago. "Enter" is an action word, something we decide and do. If we want to live, we must step up, enter through the small gate and get on the narrow road.
We understand the image of the two roads. One is a narrow, difficult path with an unvarnished gate, and few people journey there. The other has a broad entryway leading to a wide road with lots of room for many people to roam as far as they want. We see this same concept in our daily lives. Most of us are the average rank and file who pursue anything of interest,go off on many tangents, try the latest gadgets and fashions, and keep abreast of the hottest topics. We wander all over the place because we have no clear direction. Those who excel, on the other hand, focus on one objective above all else.
Students, athletes, artists, researchers, great leaders--all those who have done what few others are able to do--know the demanding requirements of the narrow road. We "couch potatoes" on the wide road cheer them on as we watch the Olympics, the Super Bowl, Dancing with the Stars, and award ceremonies for a wide variety of achievements. We praise the winners and commend their dedication. We discuss their new ideas and breakthroughs, benefit from their inventions, and enjoy their performances.
Those who excel forswear many of the things which the rest of us take for granted on a daily basis. Why? To focus on one thing--the challenge to give their all in order to achieve the goal of excellence in their chosen field. They sacrifice much in order to gain even more.
So it is with the call of Jesus. A narrow path does not permit us to wander all over the place wherever we want. By faith we zero in and decide to believe that the teachings of Jesus are indeed words of life. With the same passionate motivation as those who excel in any endeavor, we commit to hearing and actually doing what Jesus said. It becomes our focus, the one thing we love and desire above all else.
Jesus has shown us the pathway. Seek first God's kingdom and righteousness. Treat others as we would like to be treated. Make peace, forsake vengeance, trust God to care and provide. Rise above the circumstances and act as good salt and light to the world. Be unpretentious, humble, merciful, kind in judgment. Love our enemies. Pray for and forgive those who bring us pain. Is this not the gateway to life which few have found? Is it not the narrow road where we carefully and deliberately follow in the footprints of our loving Savior?
Remember, Jesus wrote the guidebook for our journey of life. He knows the way because Jesus is the way, the gate, the good life and the journey's end. This is his mission, his focus--to bring each one of us home to our heavenly Father. To that end, he invites and encourages us to leave the wide, aimless road. Persistently he calls, "Come, follow Me." They are the same words he spoke to Peter, Andrew, James and John.
It is time for us to pick a gate and choose a direction. There are consequences. The decision does matter. One choice takes us into a wasteland. The other leads to life.
Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further study or reflection.
Icebreaker: Briefly tell about a time when you reached a fork in the road of life and you had to decide which way to go.
Describe in some detail your image of the broad and narrow roads. Is the gate at the beginning or the end of the road?
Just because a road is hard, that doesn't necessarily mean it leads to life. What are some hard roads that do not lead to life?
It is said that children like having rules and boundaries. They do not really want to be free to do whatever they please all the time! Is there any parallel between that idea and what Jesus said about us walking the narrow way?
During your life's journey, what are you putting in your travel case? Will your bag fit through the narrow gate? What do you need to leave behind as excess baggage?
React to this statement: The wide road is where most people are. So if I'm doing and thinking like most people, chances are I'm heading in the wrong direction with my back toward God.
Jesus wants us to chose the narrow way with the small gate. How is your life as a disciple, like a narrow road? For what reasons are you willing to choose the difficult way? What happens when we try to walk both the broad road and narrow road at the same time? Why would Jesus give us only two choices?
We make decisions everyday. What to do? And what to leave out? What are you doing with your time? Do your activities have temporary or eternal qualities about them? Explain your answer.Being a Christian is clearly a lifetime vocation. So pray and watch for God's guidance in the ordinary decisions you make every day.
Is there anything Jesus can do to motivate us to change our behavior and actually get on with doing the things he taught us to do? How can he light a fire underneath us that will propel us out of life as we know it and onto the less-traveled road of discipleship? What would it take to get us off the couch and onto the playing field?