The Straight & Narrow Path
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
The Christian life is a minefield, littered with an unpredictable array of traps, snares, ruses and distractions, all prepared by the master of deception, and designed to destroy our joy and limit the effectiveness of our testimonies. Navigating it is a challenge that will test the commitment and veracity of the most faithful believer. Yet we as believers are charged with that responsibility. The Bible also says that only a “few” will survive the journey, and that their reward will be “life.”
The common interpretation of this passage is that it refers to salvation, implying that the “broad” path that leads to “destruction” refers to Hell and that the “narrow” path that leads to “life” represents Heaven, yet there is nothing in the context of the passage that indicates that Jesus is speaking specifically of salvation. In fact, the entire passage – Matthew 5-7 – is a discourse given to His disciples, designed to provide instruction concerning proper interpretation of the law, all of which applies very clearly to believers.
I am sure there are some at this point who are objecting to the idea that “believers” could enter at the “wide” gate and be met with destruction. After all “life” is the end for believers – not “destruction.” The scripture does, however, clearly teach that all believers have a choice – after salvation – as to which master they will serve, and which path they will follow. Those (believers) who choose to serve the wrong master, and follow the wrong path, are still saved. The Spirit of God lives in their heart and their home is Heaven, but their lives – while on this earth – are filled with sorrow and “destruction” rather than “life” and joy.
The challenge for us as believers is to stay on the “straight and narrow” path.
Several years ago my wife and I went on a two day getaway to Natural Bridge, VA. While the beauty of the area was breathtaking, we especially enjoyed an evening laser light show that was projected on the stone face of the bridge, set to traditional Christian music and honoring the creative hand of God. The next day we decided to take a tour of the caverns nearby, which were spectacular as well. The 45 minute tour of the caves was challenging and dangerous. As we made our way through the maze of paths and openings, it became obvious to me that those who originally found the caves and mapped them must have been hearty, adventurous souls. It was because of their efforts that we were able to enjoy visiting without fear of getting lost or having some sort of accident. Staying on the path was easy because of two things – the path had been clearly marked and we had a well-trained guide.
I think the application is clear. The scripture marks our path and the Holy Spirit guides our way. There is no reason for us to wander from the proper path. While every believer has the assurance of “eternal life,” it is only those who stay on the “straight and narrow” path who find the “abundant life,” while on this earth, that our Heavenly Father wants us to enjoy.