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.Matthew 7:13-14
In the past, when I’ve read these words of Jesus, I envisioned two roads: One wide road on one side and one narrow road on the other side. The wide side had lots of people travelling in a self-centered manner or with a very low bar brand of Christianity. Whereas, the narrow side had fewer travelers and were the faithful Jesus followers.
But as our country, churches, and people have become more and more divided, I think there are not two roads but three. There’s a big wide road on the left and a big wide road on the right and a teeny, tiny narrow road somewhere (we can debate if the narrow road veers a little right or a little left).
The entry ramps to both big wide roads on the left and right are easier to merge onto than ever. There are news channels giving directions to the easy access ramps. We slant our social media feeds to our particular wide road convictions (and block those “nut cases” on the other wide road). There are numerous talking heads that remind us how evil the other road travelers truly are.
The left wide road travelers tout how liberating the road is. Everyone is welcome! No fear of crashing on this road, even if you did crash there are no consequences. No hell to worry about. Jesus loves everyone and he would never send someone to such place. Jesus’ accepting and overlooking love is so wide that everyone is included no matter how sinful their behavior, how un-Christlike their attitudes or how unrepentant their heart. Seemingly, the wide left road travelers think the only evil is the people who do not agree with their wide left road positions. Travelers on the wide right road (and even on the skinning narrow road) are intolerant, hate-mongers, so please don’t travel with them.
The right wide road is so ridged that nearly no one can travel it. Yet many do. Fundamentalistically, the wide right road travelers use their Bibles as weapons. Literally taking the Sword and laying waste to anyone who disagrees with their interpretation. The wide right road folks see the world very much as black and white. You are either for us and are my friend or against us and are my enemy. There is no room for disagreement. Seemingly, the wide right road travelers think the only evil is the people who do not agree with their wide right road positions. “Travelers on the wide left road (and even the skinning narrow road) will be in for a rude awakening when our road is raptured to heaven,” they think.
The skinny narrow road is a difficult road to navigate. It doesn’t represent the wide left road, even though those travelling believe Jesus really does love everyone. It doesn’t represent the wide right road, even though it holds the whole of scripture is fully inspired. Narrow road travelers understand that they don’t have everything figured out. They wrestle with the issues. It’s messy. Sound bite answers usually aren’t sufficient. The narrow road seems too conservative for the wide left road folks and too liberal for the wide right road folks. The narrow road travelers are intolerant or naïve or not educated enough according to both the wide right and left travelers. Those on the narrow road are a lot like Jesus when he tearfully looked over Jerusalem as they grieve the bickering and divisions among their wide road travelling friends.
Travelling the narrow, skinny road is harder than ever. Jesus was right (correct, that is). It’s easy to slip onto either wide road but both those roads lead to destruction. The faithful, difficult, messy, skinny narrow road is still the road that leads to life and only a few find it.