In Matthew 7:13, near the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says: “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.” I imagine Jesus saying this with sadness in his voice, but also with intensity and urgency. He really wants us to find life and he knows the way so pay attention! It’s like a helicopter rescue at sea. If you want to survive you have to grab on to the cable that the helicopter has lowered. There is no other choice!
To understand the narrow gate and road, you need to back up a few verses. Matthew 7:7-8 say this: “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened.” The challenge that Jesus is giving here is this; what are we asking for? Are we asking for “life that is truly life” or convenience? Are we asking for an intimate relationship with Jesus or a life without suffering? You get the picture. Too often we want comfort, convenience and ease rather than adventure, faith and radical love. I know I do anyway.
This question of what we’re asking for seems to me directly related to the question of what road are we walking down. I also suspect that the more we surrender ourselves to Jesus, the more life we desire. The more we ask for the life of Jesus in us, the more we desire the life of Jesus in us. Our biggest problem is when we’re not asking for anything because our expectations of God have dropped so low. This is often because God needs to do radical work in our hearts to prepare us for life in him. We need to die to the things that don’t belong to him; we need to die to self. This is hard! This is where we need to take a stand as David reminded us in the last blog. We need the armour of God because we’re in a battle for our hearts. We need the perseverance, character and hope that Paul talks about in Romans 5. We need to cry out to God even as he does his work in us. We need to take up our crosses and follow Jesus into fullness of life.
I’m asking God for a lot this year. I want to become a more loving person, a more creative and energised pastor, husband and parent, a sale of our house as we seek to move into an area we feel God is calling us and finally, a heart that’s fully alive in Christ. So I will ask and keep on asking; seek and keep on seeking; surrender and keep on surrendering and as I do so, I am expecting that the narrow gate that leads to life will open up into the narrow road I must walk down. Jesus wants to give us life. Let’s take him up on the offer!