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
Sure we've all heard that verse a gazillion times. but have you ever really stopped to think about what it really means?. Or, more importantly to use it to question your own life?
Jesus in more than one place tells us that if we want to be TRUE followers of His, it's going to be tough.
In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. John 16:33
If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you John 15:18
If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. John 15:20
If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me Matt 16:24
And the Apostle Paul
If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 1 Corinthians 15:19
That sort of flies dead on in the face of "Your best life now"! Why would Paul say such a thing if the Christian life were meant to be easy and if by knowing Jesus we were to have a great, comfortable life here on earth?
Here's the question of the day? Can a person claim to know Jesus but still be walking on the wide path?
Let's describe this wide path: Life is good on the wide path. You may have a problem or two, but you are generally happy there. You have friends, people like you, you have material blessings and you crave more: cars, flat-screen TVs, Iphones, a good job and some extra money in the bank. You enjoy the things the world has to offer: Good restaurants, movies, TV shows, concerts and vacations. You consider yourself a good person and you may even go to church regularly. You don't worry too much about sin because you believe in Jesus and your pastor told you all your sins are forgiven and when you die, you'll go to heaven. But you aren't ready to go now! You're enjoying this world and this life too much.
How about the Narrow Path?
If you're on the narrow path, you find yourself often alone. Every once and awhile you meet someone else on the path and you enjoy a few moments of fellowship talking about Jesus and how much you love the Father. You pray for each other and then go on your way. Sometimes the path takes up a high mountain beside a dangerous drop off and you have to really keep your focus to avoid falling. When you reach the top, you stop and enjoy the most splendid view of God's creation. You may spend some time there worshiping God in Spirit and truth. Those are marvelous moments when you realize how blessed you are to be on the narrow path. Then the path may take you downward for an easier route for awhile, but soon you find that it twists and turns and you have no idea where you're going, and you have to trust the One who leads you. Sometimes the path takes you beside still waters and the fount of Living Water brings you refreshment. Other times you are deep in the valley of the Shadow of Death where it seems your enemies will swallow you whole. But more often than not, you find that the path constricts you from all sides. And like the picture above, you have to turn sideways just to squeeze through.
The Christian life is not meant to be easy, folks. Yes, it's meant to be filled with joy, hope, love, peace, faith, and great fulfillment. But Jesus never said it would be comfortable or easy. To remain on the narrow path takes hard work and commitment, especially when life seems to be pressing in on you on all sides...when it would be far easier to hop on over to the wide path where you could have a bigger, more comfortable place to walk and lots of friends.
Believe me, in these last days, this narrow path is getting narrower and narrower. Christians who actually believe the Bible is the Word of God are being labeled Extremists. If you stay true to your faith, you will lose friends and family members, I guarantee it. You might even lose your job. If you stand up for Jesus in any public forum (even in church sometimes), you will be ridiculed, ostracized, and persecuted. If you're young and want to be popular in school, if you remain a staunch follower of Jesus, you will find yourself alone.
Here's some questions to ask yourself to determine which path you are on.
- Do you have friends or even acquaintances who aren't Christians and they have no idea you are?
- Do you hang out mostly with non-believers or lukewarm Christians and enjoy their conversations and activities?
- Do you enjoy Movies and TV shows that have sex and violence or demonic themes in them?
- Do you listen mostly to secular pop music?
- Do you rarely, if ever, read your Bible at home?
- Do you find it difficult to pray and when you do, it's a struggle?
- When other Christians want to talk about Jesus, do you change the subject?
- When Christians bring up topics like heaven or the rapture, do you feel uncomfortable or angry?
- Do you drag yourself to church on Sunday when you'd rather sleep in or go to a movie?
- What occupies most of your thoughts? Be honest here. Is it your kids, spouse, significant other, money, tv or movies, beauty, job, something you're saving for, an ambition or dream you have?
If you're on the narrow path
- Everyone you know knows you're a Christian and most stay away from you because of it
- Your close friends are all true followers of Jesus
- You often feel alone in your zeal for the Lord.
- You love talking about Jesus and the things of God
- You look forward to church
- You read your Bible at least once a day, usually more if you have the time
- You commit your entire life, soul, body and spirit to the Lord everyday and ask Him to guide you
- You can't wait to get to heaven and you are watching for the Lord's soon return
- You look for opportunities to share the Gospel with others
- You give a portion of your money to God-fearing charities
- You find yourself more and more disgusted with the world system and all the rampant sin and immorality you see around you.
- People call you a Jesus freak or religious nut
- You love to pray and spend as much time as you can alone with God
- Though you enjoy some things in this world, they hold no pleasure for you more than God
- You grow weary of this world and can't wait to be with Jesus
Someone reading this may ask then why bother with the narrow path? It sounds incredibly difficult and boring. I can tell you from personal experience that yes, it's difficult, but it's anything but boring. Yet despite that, it's the destination of each path that should concern us. The wide path leads to Hell, a place of eternal misery and torment, whereas the narrow path leads to an eternity in the presence of God, where there are endless wonders, great joy, eternal happiness, and a paradise we can't even imagine.
Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him. 1 Corinthians 2:9
How to get on the narrow path