by Patrick Medlock
“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14, NASB)
Jesus said, “…narrow is the way that leads to life…” But with the tolerant chorus, claiming to represent the 99%, and occupying anywhere from Wall Street to down the street, one might ask the question: “How wide is narrow?”
Well, first, the Bible’s use of narrow is not to be confused with the term “narrow-minded.” That denotes bigotry, bias, and prejudice, and connotes a lack of progression in thought and actions.
Instead, the concept expressed by the Greek word for “narrow” here is a tight, compressed space that Jesus says many will choose not to travel. It is a lonely, rugged, costly path that requires travelers to sacrifice excess “baggage” (Hebrews 12:1-2) in order to pass through successfully.
There is room for more to travel this way. But Jesus asserted contrary to Jewish sentiments that the overwhelming majority will choose the equivalent of the four-lane highway. That way is easily accessible, fully-lighted, government-supported, and popularized by word-of-mouth, societal mores, and conventional wisdom.
Unfortunately, if its travelers do not get off in time, the final exit for this course lures all who negotiate it to spiritual destruction.
So, how wide is narrow? In short, it is just wide enough.
It is just wide enough to include all righteousness and exclude all wickedness (Ephesians 5:9; I John 1:9; 5:17; Psalms 118:19-20).
How wide is narrow? It is just wide enough to redirect the misdirection that post-modern morality casts upon spiritual discernment propagated by scripture (Psalms 14:1-5; Isaiah 5:20-21; Jeremiah 10:23-24).
How wide is narrow? It is just wide enough to mix both the bitterly received rebuke with the sweeter sounding encouragement (2 Timothy 3:16-4:1-2), and allows room for that godly sorrow which leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-10).
How wide is narrow? It is just wide enough to allow time and space to forgive all who sin (I Timothy 1:15; II Peter 3:8-9), dispense ample grace (1 Timothy 1:13-14; Romans 5:20-21), and take all steps that may lead anyone to the truth (1 Timothy 2:1-4; 2 Timothy 2:24-25).
It is just wide enough for everyone—all genders, all races, all colors (Galatians 3:28); it does not discriminate. Most importantly, it is wide enough for you and wide enough for me if we are spiritually directed enough to take it.
And it is my hope and prayer that all who read this article are inspired to make the right choice regarding this narrow, lonely, ancient path, spurned by most, but needed by all.
Thus says the LORD,
“Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths,
Where the good way is, and walk in it;
And you will find rest for your souls.
But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’
Jeremiah 6:16 (NASB)
Patrick ministers at the Springhill Road Church of Christ in Tallahassee, Florida