When I was in elementary school, I looked forward to that time in the day when we left our class room and went to the gym for P.E. Most days we would play a team sport. Basketball, whiffle ball, or something like that.
Our teacher would have us all line up behind a line. Two captains would pick who they wanted on their team. As your name was called, you would cross the line and join your captain.
Inevitable there was always an odd number, so one person wouldn’t get picked, which meant they couldn’t cross the line and join a team. You didn’t want to be that kid because you had to sit out and wait until the next game.
At the close of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus too is drawing a line in the sand. His line doesn’t determine whether you get to play a game or not. It determines whether you are in the Kingdom or not.
While that line has been there all throughout Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, it becomes even more pronounced at the end as Jesus draws a clear distinction between two ways of living.
The reason He ends in this way is to force us to examine our own lives to determine whether we can cross the line and join Him in eternity or not.
What is required for us to cross that line and join Jesus in eternity?
Jesus begins by drawing a distinction between two roads. He says in Matthew 7:13-14:
Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
Jesus’ command is for us to enter by the narrow gate, not the broad gate. To travel the narrow road, not the broad road. Jesus gives this command because one road leads to eternal life, while One road leads to destruction.
Only Two Roads
Notice Jesus only provides two roads. He tells us we are either on one or the other. No one is neutral. You can’t hangout between the two roads. Everyone travels either the narrow or broad road.
These two roads head to one of two destinations, which means not all roads lead to the top.
The Difference in the Two Roads
These two roads differ from one another. The narrow road is hard, while the broad road is easy.
Why is the broad road easy?
It is easy because it is what comes natural to us. It doesn’t require we make any sacrifices. It doesn’t require we change our will.
Why is the narrow road hard?
The narrow road, on the other hand, is hard because it is unnatural. It requires we focus. We work at it. We change our will.
I was listening to a sermon this last week and the preacher said “When it comes to learning a second language, it is difficult for us, almost unnatural, whereas our first language is easy, almost natural.”
I can attest to that. In High School and College I learned Spanish. In seminary, I had to learn Greek and Hebrew. When it came to learning these languages, it was tough. Hours of focused work was necessary. I constantly flipped through vocabulary cards. As I studied diligently, there were times when I thought I would never get it.
When I spoke Spanish, or translated the Bible from Greek or Hebrew, conscious effort and focus was required. English, on the other hand, comes easy. Sure, I have to think about what I am saying, but not nearly as hard as with the others. It comes natural to me.
The same with broad road living. It is what comes natural to us. It requires no effort or focus on our part. Not so with narrow road living. It is unnatural and hard. It requires we exert effort.
How do we know which road we are on?
We can determine what road we are traveling by thinking about the distinctions we just drew.
If how we live on a daily basis comes easy to us, it’s natural to us, it requires we expend no effort, or we don’t have to change our will, we are probably on the broad road. If what we believe and the way we act is inline with society, we are probably on the broad road.
Take for instance the following topics.
- The sanctity of marriage.
- Sex before marriage
- Exclusivity of Christianity
Each requires we pick one side or the other. Each has a popular opinion and a more restricted opinion.
Those on the broad road:
- Reject the sanctity of marriage.
- They reject the idea we must wait until we get married to have sex.
- They reject the idea that lust is wrong.
- They reject the idea that Christianity is the only way to God.
While those on the narrow road, take the opposing opinion, which is not always easy or popular. Nor is it what comes natural. Holding the narrow road opinion requires we consistently work at it. Above all, it requires our heart be changed by the gospel.
So we can tell what road we are on by looking at what we are doing. If we are doing what comes easy to us, and is natural to us, and if we are always inline with society, then we are probably on the broad road. However, if we are doing what is hard, if we have to change our will, if we are counter cultural, then we are probably on the narrow road.
Question for Reflection
- What gate have you entered through? What road are you on?
Post adapted from my most recent sermon