“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”
As a kid going to Six Flags over Texas was absolute paradise. We would get there early and, when the gates finally opened, it was like the running of the bulls in Spain. We would all squeeze through the turnstiles and sprint in every direction, aiming to be first in line on whatever our favorite ride was (looping roller coasters was my thing). Coincidentally, this is all of life. We all have our favorite things towards which we run like bulls; beliefs, people, accomplishments, experiences, emotions…those things that will bring us happiness (like a looping coaster, but hopefully with less nausea).
This is the “wide way” that Jesus talks about. It is a crowded, easy way because we put ourselves and our desires first; over others and over God. We run headlong with our own customized spiritual beliefs that suit our preferences. Sometimes these spiritual preferences come in the form of a combo-pack of religions (for instance, I’ve known many “Buddhist-Christians”). Jesus is in the mix, but I don’t really “need” him, he’s just a great side-dish. Sometimes these preferences come in a tweaked form of Christianity which is based on a strict moral code in an effort to please God, but which actually deceives us into thinking that, because I (seemingly) adhere to this code, I don’t really “need” Jesus (at least as much as those other folks).
You see, each of us bull-runners are doing things in our own way, by our own means with ourselves in mind (even if we say it’s “for God”, it’s really for what we will get from God, and focused around ourselves and our behavior rather than around the finished work of Jesus, which brings joy and freedom).
Jesus doesn’t leave us on this wide path that only leads to a deeper and deeper prideful isolation. He invites us to the narrow gate (which is him) and the narrow path (which is also him). He invites us away from the tyranny of self obsession and into the freedom of being adopted children of God. The only catch is that we have to declare our desperation. We have to realize that it isn’t “all about me” and that I am need to be picked up and carried on the path, which is only wide enough for one set of footprints…His.
There is a band called Secret Sisters that wrote a song about daddies and how they carry us. Here’s one of the lines:
If I keep on hiding, how will I be known?
I keep telling myself that I’m better alone
When my father will carry me
We all march down the wide path, thinking we are “better alone.” But we need our Heavenly Daddy to pick us up off the wide path and put us on his back, the way he put The Cross on his back, and carry us home.