As part of Jesus conclusion to the sermon on the Mount, he says “Enter through the narrow gate….small is the gate and narrow gatenarrow is the path that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  I read those words of Christ and began to ponder what it was that Jesus wanted his hearers to take away as they headed back down the mountain to their homes.  I wondered what Jesus wanted me to learn from this statement as I was about to begin my day of work at the home for needy children in Oaxaca,Mexico.  I couldn’t quite get a handle on it, so I gave up and went outside to begin my day.

The first thing that I encountered was a big mess of fruit and vegetables that needed to be cleaned up.  Somebody made a mess and I needed to clean it up.  I was upset.  Inwardly I began to grumble and complain.  It’s not right.  It’s not fair.  I began to think bad of the brother who had made the mess.  I began to judge him.  Then it hit me.  I was not entering the narrow gate that leads to life, but was trundling down the broad road that leads to destruction.  My negative attitude had destroyed my peace and joy.  In a way I had destroyed my brother in my mind.  I felt God saying to me, “Get with it and go through the narrow gate!”

Doesn’t Come Naturally

Now I was beginning to understand.  Entering the narrow gate means going against what comes naturally, and following the principles that Jesus had been laying down in his sermon.  Principles of having a kingdom heart.  Principles like not judging; forgiving; loving those who do wrong.  Jesus was saying that it is easy to follow the flesh and do what comes naturally – that is what the crowd is doing who enter the wide gate and go down the broad road that leads to destruction.

The last story he gives us in his sermon is the well known story of the wise builder and the foolish builder.  In his introduction to this parable Jesus says, “everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on a rock.”  Jesus could just as well as said that everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who entered through the narrow gate.

What are some of the other words that Jesus said that we need to put into practice?  Other things we need to do to enter through the narrow gate?

Jesus said don’t be angry with your brother.  Don’t lust.  Don’t do acts of righteousness to be seen by people so that you will be honored.  He said his disciples are to love their enemies and pray for those that persecute you.  He said to turn the other  cheek and give to those that ask and go the extra mile. He said we are to treat others like we want to be treated.  These are not easy things, but are marks of a true disciple with a kingdom heart who strives to enter the small gate and go down the narrow path.

Does God Really Want Us To Be Happy?

If we really believe that God is good and that He loves us and wants us to be happy, then we needn’t worry about anything.  At the end of Matthew chapter six, Jesus teaches his disciples that not worrying is part of what it means to enter through the narrow gate.  Jesus said, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink, or about your body, what you will wear.”  He goes on to say that your Heavenly Father feeds the birds and dresses the flowers and you are more valuable than they are.  People without Christ in  their lives worry about many things; get stressed out at work and home, and are headed down the broad path toward destruction.  Worry and stress destroys a persons health, mental outlook, happiness and relationships.  Trusting God to meet our physical and spiritual needs leads to health, happiness and life.

Everyone wants to be happy.  C.S. Lewis writes that God desires our happiness more than we ourselves desire to be happy.  God has provided explicit, written instructions on how to be happy in the Manual of Life called the Bible.  Those who enter the wide gate that leads to unhappiness and destruction disregard God’s Word.  Those who love God and trust him and put into practice His principles found in the Bible enter through the narrow gate that leads to life.  C.S. Lewis writes, “We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to  go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea.  We are far too easily pleased.”

Jesus put the question to the crowd and to his disciples, are you going to be wise and put what you have just heard me preach into practice, or are you going to be foolish and ignore what I have just said?  Are you going to enter through the narrow gate that leads to life, or continue going down the broad path that leads to destruction?

I ask in the vain of C.S. Lewis,  are we going to happily make mud pies the rest of our lives, or are we going to make sand castles by the sea?

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The narrow  gate is not, as so  often assumed, doctrinal correctness.  The narrow gate is obedience – and the confidence in Jesus necessary to it.  We can see that it is not doctrinal correctness because many people who  cannot even understand the correct doctrines nevertheless place their full faith  in him.  Moreover, we find many people who seem to be very correct doctrinally but have hearts full of hatred and unforgiveness.  The broad gate, by contrast is simply doing whatever I want to do.        Dallas Willard in The Divine Conspiracy

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