How Narrow Is The Narrow Path?
“Enter through the narrow gate. 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 is the road that leads to life, and few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14. Here is the famously quoted verse that is used to refer to the Christian life. It is part of the great “Sermon On The Mount” that Matthew records for us.
Songs and sermons and even books have been written telling us that the road in life that leads to eternal life is a narrow one. But how narrow is the narrow road?
In the Old Testament God handed Moses a pattern for God’s people to live Holy, Righteous lives. Growing up reading Numbers, Leviticus, and even Deuteronomy were cumbersome, and for a young pastor’s son, who wanted to really understand what the Bible said, it was almost just like cropping tobacco on a hot August day in South Georgia.
Yet, as I grew older and read more of the other parts of the Bible, especially the New Testament, I understood that God had set these things in order for the people’s protection and health. The pattern of the Tabernacle, the sacrifices, feasts, and the guidelines given we call the Law.
The Law was given to set boundaries for God’s people in how to live holy, righteous, set apart from all of the other nations. Of course the goal was that Israel was to be a “Light to the Nations.” It was a very narrow path. Deut. 5:33 says to stay on the path that the Lord God has put you on.” Good advice for the Israelites and is still good for today. God set boundaries for His people to live by. He called them a royal priesthood and a holy nation. The words royal and holy describe what kind of people they were. Peter later describes believers as a ‘royal priesthood, a holy nation. All believers are holy and royal, a kingdom of priests.
We know that we must live on a narrow path as disciples of Christ. How narrow is the path? I think it narrows as we go along in following Jesus in life’s ups and downs. When we are first saved we read and study the Bible and pray, and serve, and we stop doing things that we used to do that were obvious sins. As we grow, and mature we get closer to Jesus and learn to obey quickly. It’s a process. Consider we were on the broad path and suddenly the light comes on and we start on the narrow path. As we mature and grow the path gets narrower and narrower. Jesus require more of us.
I’ve learned that things I used to get by with for a while now the Holy Spirit is quicker to say, “hey change this or that”. He expects me to respond immediately. I don’t want to back around the mountain. I want to move on to the next thing, or season or lesson. When Jesus calls you to do something or partner with Him in some ministry or business opportunity He expects obedience with a heart ready to follow wherever He leads. He may give you a picture or vision but the path to see it completed is narrow and one that He has just for you for your life, your family, your ministry. Of course our paths crisscross and traverse many believers and yes, unbelievers. No matter what we face on our path we have to stay on it.
When I was in Israel a few years ago I had the pleasure to walk through Hezekiah’s tunnels. These tunnels were built by order of King Hezekiah to keep Israel’s enemies from accessing their water supply and thus saving the city of Jerusalem. Currently the tunnels are under the streets outside the city of David and the Old City. It is dark and you must trudge through water that sometimes is up to you waist. There is a rock wall on either side and the ceiling is just inches above your head. There is no light and in the middle you can actually see where one group almost missed making the connection of the two pieces of the tunnel. Yes, two teams dug this tunnel and met in the middle without any modern tools for guidance. It was a narrow path. What if they both ended up in random places, never meeting? It is considered a great feat of engineering. A narrow path that one must stay on to finally see the light at the end.
You have to overcome many barriers in Hezekiah’s tunnel to see the light. Cold water a rocky path you walk on, not to mention you have just a little light. You can only go at a set pace, and it seems like you are never going to reach the end. Oh and once you get started and get so far you cannot go back. You are committed and there is no way to see how far along you are.
That sounds like the Christian life. It seems dark, yet we walk by faith, not by sight. That’s what came to mind when I was plowing through the water. Following Jesus is a walk of faith, and even if we get off the path He won’t let us go far without nudging and saying ‘hey, why aren’t you walking on the path”? He does it lovingly, while Satan’s minions do it accusingly. The point is it is a narrow path, and gets narrower as we mature and grow. I urge you to stay on the path the Lord has put you on.