person walking away from the camera up a mountain path with a valley below
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The Narrow Way to a Spacious Place

I’ve always felt a bit uncomfortable with Jesus’ words in Matthew 7:13-14:

“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.”

Yikes. At first glance, he sounds like that fire and brimstone preacher on the corner at Times Square who is condemning people to eternal damnation. 

But as I’ve sat with those words in recent months, I’ve tried to contemplate them from the perspective of the same Jesus who said that God blesses the poor in spirit, that God welcomes sinners uncategorically, that God sent him in order to love the world, not condemn the world. 

And I’ve started to wonder whether Jesus is making a statement about spiritual reality that is more akin to the laws of physics than the laws of a courtroom. It’s not rude or mean or condemnatory to tell me that if I drop a hammer on my bare toe, it will cause me great pain, whereas if I drop a feather, it won’t affect my toe at all. That’s just a statement of fact about how gravity works.

Narrow Way to Spacious Life

What if it’s just true, that walking the road toward life is like a narrow path up the side of a mountain? What if it is like a trail, with roots and rocks and forests that hide my view from what is coming? What if it takes longer and seems circuitous, and requires a guide? 

And what if the road that I could easily pursue on my own is a wide one? A highway of sorts, easy to navigate, boring and fast and efficient as I speed along? And what if that highway leads me toward destruction?

I’ve started to think that the narrow road Jesus talks about here is also a beautiful one. Slow to traverse and somewhat hidden, but available to all who want to walk with the guide who wants to lead us to fullness of life. I’ve started to think of it as a narrow road to a spacious place.

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