Summary: We can easily take the easiest path but God calls us to navigate the narrow one
The Highway to Heaven
In the mid to late 80’s a television series aired staring the late Michael Landon and Victor French called “Highway to Heaven.” This show was about Jonathon Smith, an angel sent down by God, to partner up with ex-Oakland policeman Mark Gordon. They would be assigned duties by God in which they would help people see a better life, and sometimes help each other. Each episode began with clips of that episode. Then the sky would fill with a heavenly shot of clouds. The clouds would fade away, and the soothing theme music would begin to play, and the highway to heaven was open to all. The highway to heaven is open to all, but this expansive highway is really a very narrow pathway.
Listen to the Words of Jesus in the 7th chapter of Matthew, verses 13 & 14. These Words are found in the closing section of His Sermon on the Mount. (Actually, to be correct, it is Jesus’ Sermon on the plain to the people on the Mount.) We read of two ways of life. “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
Jesus continually emphasized the difficulty of following Him. Later in the Gospel of Matthew, chapter 16:24-26, Jesus said to His disciples; “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?” Salvation is by God’s grace alone, but it is not easy. It calls for knowledge of the truth (God’s Word), repentance, submission to Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives and a willingness to obey His Will.
Narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and only few will find it. Jesus was teaching the complete opposite of what the Pharisees were teaching. We must be careful of deception, but perhaps the greatest danger is self-deception. The Pharisees had fooled themselves into believing that they were righteous and others were sinful. It is possible for people to know the right language, believe intellectually the right doctrines, obey the right rules yet still not be saved.
Jesus started His sermon with the Beatitudes – “Blessed are the poor in spirit, the meek, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.” These are the Be-Attitudes, not the Do-Attitudes. There is nothing we can do to enter the Kingdom of Heaven – It has already been done, only by the grace of God. But Jesus teaches that the path we must choose is the narrow one, the hard one, the one less traveled. The other, the broad way is easy, it’s popular and the majority will follow it. But statistics don’t apply here. The fact that everybody does it is no proof that what they are doing is right.
Quite the contrary is true: God’s people have always been a remnant, a small minority in this world. The way of life is narrow, sometimes lonely and sometimes costly. We can take the broad way. There’s plenty of room to haul around our baggage of sin and worldliness. We can take it all, years of accumulation. But if we enter the narrow way, we must give up those things. No room for baggage. We check it at the gate.
I don’t want to paint a desolate picture of a life in Christ. Yes, the narrow path is less traveled, and sometimes hard. But along this path we find abundance and blessings. In the 10th chapter of the Gospel according to John, Jesus said; “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” We are promised an abundant life in Christ. The word ‘abundance’ in Hebrew literally means dripping with fertility! To me, abundance is the opposite of emptiness. Abundance in Christ is fullness in Christ.
Picture yourself on a sixteen lane freeway, stuck in traffic – eight lanes going each way. You’re in the fourth lane, three lanes on your left and four lanes on your right. Lots of cars, many people traveling, popular route. How’s your view? You can’t see anything but cars stuck in the same place that you are. People in cars, plodding along, all heading in the same direction. One following the other with no end in sight.