“Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14).
It seems that every time we begin preparing for another trip, connections are harder to find. Many airlines have abandoned routes, consolidated flights, and otherwise reduced options. Sometimes we get the impression that “we just can’t get there from here.”
Once we get into the countries it may get even worse. Roads are often damaged because of landslides or flooding; sometimes travel is halted by strikes and political unrest. On one recent trip there were severe shortages of fuel which made even local short-distance travel very difficult.
Fortunately, there has always proven to be a way, though sometimes it is less convenient or more expensive than we had hoped. Thus far we have always gotten there, no matter how difficult it may have proven to be.
When Jesus and the apostles taught about eternal life with God in Heaven, they emphasized that there is a way to that wonderful place which is available to all. Jesus stated it in this way, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Paul revealed that this is a universally accessible path: “For whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:13). Elsewhere he used his own history as an example of just how great the grace of God is: “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15; to understand the enormity of Paul’s sin and God’s grace read also verses 12-14, 16).
But we must also understand that the way to the Father, though available to all, is not promised to be easy, convenient, or cheap. When one would-be disciple asked to follow him Jesus taught, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Luke 9:58). In other words, “If you follow me, don’t expect it to be easy.”
Jesus’ strongest language concerning the difficulty of the way to eternity (commonly referred to as “the cost of discipleship”) may well be the following:
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26-27).
He continued by illustrating the importance of assessing the cost of one’s endeavors in advance, using the examples of a man building a tower and a king going to war (Luke 14:28-33). Wise builders and rulers will determine their ability to succeed before starting such projects. So those who set out to follow Jesus (that is, those who want to enter eternal life) must consider what the cost will be before a commitment is made.
Yes, we can get there from here, no matter how far from God we have strayed, or how deeply in sin we are lost. But we must not be deceived to believe that the journey will be either quick, easy, or cheap.