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An Easter Journey
“A Narrow Path”
It is said, and I believe it to be true, that it’s a good thing to know where you’re going, especially in this age of electronic navigation, because what I have found is that Seri is known to lie, and when you confront her on her misguided communications, she gets all huffy and full of attitude. And truthfully, how can we argue with a non-entity computer program. First, it doesn’t work, second people look at you as if you’re insane, and third, Seri or whichever program you have just shuts you down. (I would say it’s kind of like a wife, but I wouldn’t dare go there!)
On one occasion, several of my pastors from Las Vegas were heading back from a retreat up in Lake Tahoe. As they were traveling back late at night they missed the turn off. Well, a couple of hours later, one of them woke up and asked the driver where they were, because the area looked a lot like Sacramento, not Barstow. Well, it took them half a day to get back on track.
And then there was the time when I followed Seri’s directions that ended me up at a brick wall, not Pacific Life College.
To prevent mishaps like these, it’s a good thing to sit down prior to the trip with a map in hand, or on the computer screen and map out the directions yourself. Then you can trust these on-board navigation devices.
Now, I tell you this to get at this point, and that is, life is filled with choices. In fact, you had to make a choice of faith over fear, to get up out of bed and come to church, and then the choice to follow through with that choice and actually get dressed, get in the car, and come. There were other choices as well, like when to get up, whether or not to take a shower, which I am glad you decided to do. We had to make the choice as to what to wear, what the children would wear, what to eat, and then whether or not following and trusting God at His word is worth it.
Each day we’re confronted with choices. Some have little impact, while others significantly change the course of our lives. In an article I just read today, it says that the average person makes around 750,000 decisions in a lifetime. So, we’re all accustomed to making choices every day, and not just a few choices, but a supermarket full of them, each with their own special ingredients.
Talking about supermarkets, think of the choices we make when we walk up and down the aisles.
• Take toothpaste: Years ago it used to be between buying Crest and Colgate. Now there over 15 major manufacturers with each making multiple types. Now it’s extra whitening, tartar control, complete care, baking soda, gel, paste, gel and paste combined, antibacterial, flavored, toothpaste for sensitive teeth, and then there are the different sizes and shapes of the containers. And that’s just Crest.
• How about shampoo: talk about options. Botanicals this, herbal that, citrus enhanced, salon quality, extra body, maximum shine, increased volume, or shampoo for dry, brittle, greasy, limp, fine, or oily hair. There’s dandruff shampoo, shampoo for curly, straight, frizzy, course, or colored hair. Personally, I’d like a shampoo that will just clean my hair, and if it can re-grow hair, all the better.
• And then we have all these cold remedies. One relieves headaches, but does nothing for congestion. One relives congestion, but does nothing for sinus pressure or headaches. Then there are those that do six different things, except the one thing that you need it to do. And by the time we finish looking at all the options, the cold has run its course.
In fact, we live in an age of choices, and the most critical choice we can ever possibly make is about Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God, because this choice is what determines our eternal destiny.
And this is the choice Jesus is asking for us to make.
Which road in life will we take? Will be take the wide and flashy way that leads to destruction, or will we take the less noticeable and the more unremarkable way that leads to everlasting life? This is a choice that is before each and every one of us, or shall I say, before each and every human being.
That’s right! I said it! There is only one ways to heaven and an eternal life with God. There aren’t a multitude of various ways that the world and religion continues to propagate. Instead there is just one way, and it’s the narrow way, but at the same time, there is only one way to hell, and it’s wide and accommodating and will allow just about everything and everyone upon it.
Jesus said it like this: “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.” (Matthew 7:13-14 NKJV)
And so, let’ take a moment and look at both of these ways so we can determine which path we’re on.
The Wide Way
Entering the wide way takes little if no thought at all. It’s an attractive way, and it seems as like everyone is traveling upon it, from Hollywood to our courts of law. It’s the road that leads to where all the action is, because it’s the way of the world, and because it’s the way of the world, nothing hinders either our entrance onto it, or our travel upon it.
Jesus says that there are many people who are on this road, and that’s because people tend to go where everyone else is going, and that’s because they think these other people know something they don’t, or that they know what they are doing.
Have you ever found yourself following the crowd rather than asking for directions? When we were at Sea World, there were a couple of times we just followed everyone else and sometimes ended up on the opposite side of the park, somewhere we never wanted to be. And when you’re at Sea World, these paths were always wide, because they accommodate hundreds of people.
This path Jesus is referring too is wide because it accommodates the masses. It’s also wide so that we can carry as much baggage and goodies as we want. It’s a wide path because it allows us to keep all the junk from the past without having to deal with it. We can just attach it to Jesus and continue on our way.
It’s wide so that people who travel upon it aren’t inconvenienced along the way; that’s why there are a lot of lanes that people can travel upon. There’s the Substance Abuse lane, Pride lane, the lane of Materialism, and the Sexual Sin lane. There’s the lane of Hate and Anger, the lane of Bitterness, the lane of Compromise, and the lane of unforgiveness. It even has a passing lane; it’s called Religiosity. And the amount of lanes continues to expand as they are needed.
And while there are many lanes, and while it is easy to travel upon, Solomon, the wisest of all men, tells us that they all these lanes have just one ending.
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12 NKJV)
Now, the obvious question is why is this path more widely accepted and traveled? The answer is because it’s a way that has no rules or restraints. It’s a way where everyone can do what is right in their own sight.
Some call it the Road of Permissiveness, because the wide way allows you to believe and do anything you want. It’s a road that has no curbs, no restrictions, and no warning signs. You see, the wide way is the way of fallen humanity.
When we look back at history, most of the injustices that have occurred have been because of unchecked and unbridled majority rule.
One U.S. Senator said, “The majority crucified Jesus Christ; the majority burned the Christians at the stake; the majority established slavery; the majority jeered when Columbus said the world was round; the majority threw him into a dungeon for having discovered a new world. Christ always calls us to follow the lifestyle of the ‘Minority opinion.’ Don’t be deceived by the loud voice of majority morality.”
The wide way is not only the path most people are on, but also it is the path that most people will encourage you to take, and if you choose not to, then they’ll ridicule and hate you. The majority isn’t always right, however. Even if 99 percent of people tell you this is the way, and the Bible says differently, then God and His word is the way to go.
The majority chooses the wide way, because they don’t have to give up anything, including the belief structure they’ve accepted from majority rule; and that belief structure is that all someone needs to be is good enough to get to heaven, or that all religions are pathways to God.
This way of the world is lit with some pretty bright lights, the problem is that these lights end up blinding people from the truth, and that’s because they don’t light the way for people to follow; rather they’re pointed right at you so you can’t see where you are going. And so it blinds the traveler from the off ramp to the narrow road, the road that leads to an eternal life in heaven.
After a Sunday morning service, a church member came to the pastor and said the devil never bothers him. That he can do whatever he wants and the devil just leaves him alone.
And the pastor replied, “Two people traveling down the same road rarely ever collide.”
I find it sad at how many people are so ready to accept heaven as humanity’s ultimate destination, but at the same time completely reject the notion of hell.
Robert Ingersoll, a famous lawyer and atheist of the 19th century delivered a blistering lecture on hell. He told his audience how unscientific hell was, and how intelligent people decided that there was no such place.
After the meeting, an inebriated man came up to him and said, “Bob, I liked your lecture; I liked what you said about hell. But I want you to be sure about it, because I’m depending upon you.”
Do we really want to trust our eternal destiny on others, or on the Bible? And just for the record, the Bible has always been proven true, while humanity’s truths are constantly changing. Humanity’s truths are more like a bunch of facts that have never been properly vetted and substantiated, and therefore they have no basis by which truth can be established.
The Narrow Way
Initially, the narrow way isn’t seen by most. Jesus said, “There are few who find it.” In other words, unlike the wide way, which is basically the default way of humanity, the narrow way must be sought out, and it’s only sought after when we get tired of the wide way and say “There’s got to be more to life than this?” This is actually my own testimony.
The fact that it is narrow means there’s no room to take all the baggage of our past and of the world. The Bible says when we come into that saving knowledge of Jesus Christ we’re new creations. The only thing allowed on this road, because it is so narrow is the cross of Christ.
Jesus said, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV)
There’s no room for chasing after the world and all its pleasures. There’s no room for an unforgiving spirit or self-righteousness. And the way isn’t easy, but Jesus tells us to strive for it anyway, and that’s because it is the way to eternal life.
It isn’t easy following the narrow way. It’s hard to turn the other cheek when someone does us wrong. It’s hard to love those who hate our guts. And it’s not easy not to judge or forgive others over the wrong that they have done.
And so, the narrow road isn’t easy, but it is essential if we want to spend an eternity with God in heaven. The Bible says, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.” (Acts 14:22)
And so, while the world promotes all these different ways to get to God, don’t be deceived. There is only one way, and Jesus tells us the way.
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6 NKJV)
So, there aren’t all these different pathways to God, there is only one, and that is Jesus. Yes, the narrow way is hard, and its boundaries are clearly marked out in God’s word, but still it’s a way we must seek out and strive after, because it leads to eternal life.
When everyone left after one of Jesus’s particularly hard teaching, Jesus asked His twelve disciples why they didn’t leave as well, and Peter said something that has kept me through some pretty tough times, especially when others encouraged me to leave.
Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68 NKJV)
Jesus is the narrow gate, and the narrow way, and whoever travels down this road will be saved. And not only will they have a more abundant life here on earth, but it will lead them into an eternity with God in heaven once this life is over.
Jesus said that while the thief, Satan, has come to steal, kill, and destroy, He, Jesus, has come to give us life, and that more abundantly (John 10:10).
Now, there are those that say that this way is too narrow, too restrictive, but the reason is because the narrow way doesn’t allow all the philosophies and teachings of the world. You might say the way is narrow because it is only one person wide, and that person is Jesus.
Now, the reason there are only a few who find and walk on this narrow road is because so many people are satisfied with less, with life as they are presently living it.
When will they find this road and start walking upon it? It’s when they become dissatisfied with life. It’s when they learn that they need Jesus Christ. It’s when they learn the world is nothing compared to the life found in Jesus, and it’s not until they realize that the life the world offers only leads to death.
But know this, that when we travel on this narrow road with cross in hand; we don’t walk alone. First there are other believers to encourage us along the way, but most importantly we have Jesus Christ walking right next to us, and at the really difficult sections of the road, Jesus stops walking next to us and picks us up and carries us over them.
Life is all about choices, and we all have the freedom to choose. And please understand that God never chooses anyone to travel on the wide way that leads to destruction and hell. We choose it. God never made hell for humanity; rather hell was created for Satan and the fallen angels (Matthew 25:41). And so, God gives to us a choice, and this has always been the way of God.
“I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19 NKJV)
God tells us that we have a choice to make, a choice between life and death, between heaven and hell, between a blessing or a curse. But He strongly encouraged life and blessing, which comes through a life of obedience, obedience to God and obedience to His word.
Upon entering the Promised Land, Joshua told the people to choose whom they were going to serve, but no matter what anyone else decided, he said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:13-15 NKJV)
We are all at this crossroads of faith, because the narrow way is a choice we make every day. Remember Jesus said to pick up our cross daily and follow Him (Luke 9:23).
Most of us have things that are dear to us, things like sinful pleasures, lusts, or activities that may or may not be sinful. Yet they are things we do not want to give up. Losing them is difficult, but keeping them prevents us from entering through the narrow gate and traveling upon the narrow road, and entering eternity with Jesus.
The wide road leads to destruction. The narrow road leads to heaven. Our eternal destination is at stake, so in the immortal words of the Knight Templar in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, “Choose wisely.”
Wednesday Evening Bible Study