“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road is easy that leads to destruction, and there are many who take it. For the gate is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
Forsaking the Easy Way and Finding LIfe
I don’t know if it is possible that I could be more optimistic than Jesus - probably not! In this portion of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus doesn’t seem to think that many of us are going to enter through the narrow gate or walk the hard road that leads to life. I think this “narrow gate” that Jesus is referring to is entered when we walk the path of love. Perhaps he calls it a “hard road” because it is not easy to love... it is not easy to love God, love others, love our enemies, love the planet, or love the marginalized in the same way that we love ourselves. On the other hand, I meet a lot of people who are very loving... who look beyond themselves and are committed to bringing light, love, and healing to the planet.
What I feel confident about is that - when things happen - you and I always have a choice about how we respond.
If someone gives me feedback, I can choose the wide gate of defensiveness and reactivity, or I can choose the narrow gate of openness to learning.
If I am feeling fearful, I can choose the wide gate of withdrawing into myself... and maybe even amassing more weapons, or I can choose the narrow gate of wondering what is really going on for me, and shifting my state - with God’s help - through a move like accepting, appreciating, or loving someone... perhaps even myself.
If I am feeling helpless about horrific events that happen - whether close by or far away - I can choose the wide gate of throwing up my hands and saying “Nothing can be done!” or I can choose the narrow gate of phoning or emailing my Congressperson, attending a prayer vigil, and discussing other actions I can take with my brothers and sisters of faith.
If I wake up on the wrong side of the bed, I can choose the wide gate of complaining and finding someone to blame, or I can choose the narrow gate of being grateful to God for the beauty of creation, the roof over my head, the food I have to eat for breakfast, or a thousand other things.
In any given moment, you and I can make decisions that either enhance life for others (and ourselves), or do things that lead to destruction.
According to Jesus, one road is much easier than the other. But the easy road is not the road that leads to life.
We are not perfect. We mess up. We do things that hurt others; we do things that are self-destructive. And, whether we are walking toward the narrow gate or the wide gate, Jesus is constantly whispering or shouting to us, “Choose life! Choose life! Choose life!”
How will you enter by the narrow gate today?
For all the ways that your bring love, light, healing, hope, and peace to the world, I say “Thank you!” Much more importantly, whenever you do these things, God says, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joy - and life - of your Master.”