Matthew 7:13-14 – Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. (NIV)
My parents' home in Scotland had its own front garden. My dad planted a hedgerow to divide it from our neighbours and placed a green picket fence all around it. To get to the front door of our house, visitors had to walk through the small wooden gate in the fence. My dad never oiled the hinges on the gate, so it creaked noisily each time that it was opened. I think that he did this deliberately as an early warning signal to let him know that someone was approaching the front door. Later in life, every time I visited my parents, the creaky gate was a welcome sound to me and a homecoming ritual that I always enjoyed. Even though they are now long gone and I am living on a different continent, I can still hear that gate being opened as I muse on it in my mind.
When Jesus spoke of the narrow gate in gospel times, He was clearly teaching His followers to focus seriously on the path that He was laying before them. If they wandered from His teachings or even redefined His way, they would miss the narrow gate which was meant to open them to a life beyond death and an eternal existence. Christ cautioned them about being too broad-minded or too casual about their faith. If they followed the world, they would pursue a wide path which ultimately led to destruction. However, if they remained attentive and focused on Jesus, they would keep on His single path and enter through His narrow gate which, according to Jesus, only a few would truly experience.
In these post-modern times, people are both encouraged and enticed to follow their own destiny, their own path, and their own ideas. The culture of self has overtaken the community of faith, which sadly means that many will miss the narrow gate. As a pastor, an important part of my calling is to show people where that gate is and to help them to walk through it. If I'm too busy doing my own thing, going my own way, and making my own path, then I will be guilty of leading people astray. However, if I maintain my focus on Jesus, His way, and His words, then I can confidently point to the gate and faithfully help Jesus to lead my folks through it.
Points to ponder: Am I allowing the world to distract me and divert me onto a different path? How can Jesus help me to find and walk through His narrow gate?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, keep us on Your path, and lead us through Your narrow gate. Prevent us from becoming careless about our faith and lost in our own ways. In Your holy name, we humbly ask and pray. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "Open My Eyes That I May See" (Lyrics)