As he nears the end of his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus talks about two gates, two roads, two crowds and two destinies. Without apologizing, he narrows our choices in life.
We mostly resent the idea of being forced to make a choice between two options. We prefer a menu. Restaurants understand this. That’s why they offer many food options within a culinary genre. Car manufacturers have figured this out too. Henry Ford offered his Model T for sale in black only, but that wouldn’t work in today’s marketplace. No, finicky auto consumers demand a variety of makes, models and colors. However, Jesus didn’t give us a menu of religious options from which to choose, or a conglomerate of many.
The word “enter” suggests there is a place at which we make a decision to travel one path in life or the other. We cannot stand still, remain neutral, or choose not to enter. Like it or not, life forces us to travel one of two pathways and accept one of two destinies.
The fact that Jesus bids us to enter by the narrow gate and travel the narrow road is unsettling to some, especially when a wide and politically correct superhighway full of many religions, philosophies and ideologies is always before us. A well-respected conservative Christian leader describes how many of us feel about narrowness,
“I don’t like to think of myself as narrow. Narrow people come through dwarfed spirits with tunnel vision, folks with no breadth to their lives, country bumpkins who measure their whole world by their small towns. They have trouble seeing beyond their back fences. I think of narrow religious people in the same way. They measure everyone by their limited experience. They tell everyone what is wrong with the world, but they are not better, just smaller. Yet they think everyone is evil except them. They have a warped view of life and God. No. I don’t want the reputation of being narrow. But in a sense truth is narrow.”
He’s right. Truth is narrow. Just ask your math teacher. No matter how hard I tried to broaden the truth in my math class, one plus one always and absolutely equaled two.
Narrowness also characterizes successful marriages. When a bride and groom exchange vows, they make a narrow choice to “forsake all others” while pledging themselves to each other “until death do us part.” Today, many marriages and families are self-destructing because one or both spouses have not maintained their commitment to exclusivity.
Make no mistake about it. Religious syncretism and moral relativism mark the broad road in life. Many travel this road. We might not make as many friends on the narrow road, but nonetheless, Jesus invites us to enter there.