Summary: the narrow way is a much harder and more difficult to travel. It is unpaved, covered with rocks and gravel and filled with potholes. It requires commitment, determination, discipline, control, and self-denial.
The Road Less Traveled
I had just flown back home from attending a class for my Doctorate in Pasadena, CA. The week was filled with long days and short nights. I had an early morning flight and then flew most of the day. By the time I got home, I was exhausted. Yet I didn’t want to miss my workout so I headed to the gym. While driving down the main street in my neighborhood, I leaned over to pick something up that fell on the floor of the car. Little did I know that my hand moved on the steering wheel, guiding my Jeep Grand Cherokee head-on into a 4 foot tall brick mailbox stand. The resulting crash had the sound of an explosion. The airbags were deployed, bricks flew everywhere and the front end of my SUV was crushed. My front bumper settled in the middle of the road. I got out, called the police and started to clean up my mess. Word quickly spread through the neighborhood and a small crowd gathered. The worst part of it was when one of the youth in my church told me my bumper was on display at the high school party after the football game on Friday night and was paraded all around with everyone learning it was their pastor who had hit the mailbox. It took more than 2 months and $12,000 to fix my car. The moral of the story? There are consequences when we don’t look where we’re going. The reality is that there are lots of people living like that. They’re on the journey of life and are not really looking where they are going and the results can be just as drastic. We’re all on a journey somewhere, but to where and on what path?
There are all kinds of paths to choose from, aren’t there? Some are on the path to riches. Some are on the path to enlightenment. Some are looking for Easy Street. Some are on the Led Zeppelin path – The Stairway to Heaven. Some are on the AC/DC path, “the Hiway to Hell.” “What road are you on?” Perhaps there is no better time than the New Year to step back, reflect and look at the path of our lives, where you are and where you’re headed. In our Scripture today, Jesus talks about two paths when he speaks of the wide and the narrow gate. Gates say much about the path you’re on. Images of gates They’re ornate or simple, large or small, inviting or forbidding. In ancient Israel, cities were surrounded by walls and people entered them through gates. Large gates were very broad and permitted throngs of people to pass through at the same time, while others were quite narrow, permitting just one person at a time. Image and story of the gate of Church of Nativity. When the city was threatened or under siege, only the narrow gate was used. One usually had to bend down as you enter and take off any baggage you had. If we had our choice, we would always choose the wide gate. It’s just easier.
We’re starting a new series today called, “The Road Less Traveled”, as we head into the New Year. Our problem too often is we make the road and our journey all about us. But the journey of life is meant to be about joining Jesus on the road to the cross. For Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” Matthew 16:24-26 Jesus calls us to a different road, The Road Less Traveled, filled with continual sacrifice and self denial.
The wide gate is open and easy to get through. It is smooth and inviting. You don’t need to offload any baggage and you can bring anything you want through them. It can accommodate anyone without having to make any real sacrifices. There are no restrictions or prohibitions. You don’t have to change. You can live your way by your rules. It tolerates many and it is very, very attractive. This is the easy way. People choose the broad road because it is the way the majority seem to be traveling. After all, how could so many people be wrong? On the other hand, the narrow way is a much harder and more difficult to travel. It is unpaved, covered with rocks and gravel and filled with potholes. It requires commitment, determination, discipline, control, and self-denial. It takes a strong will, much determination, and a great deal of self-sacrifice to travel this way. Jesus invites us to take the narrow path but that takes a whole other level of effort and commitment on our part.