For the video teaching on this, please link to our 721 Ministries Videos on Vimeo.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. — Matt. 7:13-14
Our culture is a broad, busy road to destruction, and most everyone is flowing along that highway to destruction. Yes, this is true of Hell, but Jesus is not talking about Heaven or Hell here; he is talking about the narrow gate that leads to his Life to the Full. (John 10:10) How do we miss the narrow gate that leads to his Life? We get distracted by busyness and nonsense, and we flow right past his tributary that leads to those rich, peaceful and joyful green pastures and quiet waters. (Psalm 23)
Yet I have both witnessed and experienced another aspect of Jesus’ warning about the narrow gate. Imagine your life journey as a series of gates, each getting more and more narrow. As you journey along the broad road that leads to the C-, D or even F life, Jesus steps into your life and says, “My child. This is not the path to true Life. Follow me through this narrow gate into my Kingdom, and together we will find my Life to the full.”
Jesus stepped into my life like this in June of 1995. I was careening down the broad road of success, and popularity, money, and all that. I was blind as a bat to the upcoming cliff. Jesus stepped in and showed me the gate to the narrow path.
That was twenty-seven years ago, and in the ensuing years he has stepped in many more times to redirect my path back off that broad road. I keep drifting back! But each time it seems the gate gets a little narrower. Perhaps it is a bad habit or a hard-heart issue I have been carrying for a while. I won’t forgive someone, or I certainly am not going to forget!
Whatever it is, it is always related to my Self.
Here is how it plays out. The Holy Spirit prompts me that a certain behavior is no longer acceptable, that is, if I want to go deeper into the richness of the Kingdom. I find myself standing before a gate and I hear the Holy Spirit say, “Now Sam, if you want to go deeper into the love-joy-peace-patience of the Kingdom, it is time to drop this particular thing.”
I immediately know he is right. There is no confusion about that. But here the conflict begins. He is right. I know it. And I want to go deeper; I have already tasted the joy and I want more! But … I am not sure I can. This habit, this heart issue, has been with me for a long time.
I cry out to Jesus: “I want to, but I cannot. Don’t you see? This is a part of me. It is who I am. I would change, I would drop it if I could.”
Jesus smiles his warm, loving smile, just as he did with the Rich Young Ruler, and says, “Okay. You hang back. You’re still saved. You’re still mine. I still love you. But you cannot go any deeper as long as you carry this.”
I settle back into what is now an obvious C- life. (I couldn’t – or wouldn’t – see it before.) But after a while, I come back up to the gate and I say, “Jesus, I cannot do this on my own. In fact, I am not even sure I can do this at all. But one thing I know for certain: I cannot stand to stay back here behind this gate. I want to go deeper!”
Jesus then spreads his arms out wide, smiles and says, “Of course you cannot do this on your own. That is why I am here at the gate with you. Come, follow me. Drop that baggage and together we will walk through this next gate, away from the broad road, and into the next, richer phase of your journey with me.”
Do you know what I experience immediately upon dropping whatever was holding me back? Freedom! Yes, the almost unimaginable relief of finally being free from that thing that I was holding onto, or was allowing to hold onto me, and therefore holding me back.
Now it is time for you to stop reading this and acknowledge the gate Jesus has placed before you. You know it. There is no confusion about that. Your only confusion is the conflict with which you are now wrestling, perhaps saying the same things to Jesus I said earlier.
Jesus is saying to you, now, as you read this: “Dear child, there is more. You know it. Come through this gate with me and find it.
Because … “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” (John 10:9)