Keep on God's Path
We live in an age where all ways and religions are accepted as equally valid and good. People in the ways of the world tell us that sin and dysfunction is okay. It is very easy to find so called friends and enablers who will help you go back to your old ways and keep you there. They will tell you it is okay, that a little drug or a drink will not hurt you. But you have to know that they are lying and seeking to ruin you. They do not want help themselves and want to take you and others down with them. Do not let this happen to you! You need to trust in Christ and have the willpower to keep on God's path for your recovery so you do not fall off it and go back to your old harmful ways.
This passage tells us that we are narrow-minded and bigoted if we suggest anything else. However, political correctness aside, there is only One Way and it is both the hardest way and the easiest. Hard, because it cost our Lord so much. Hard, because it requires us to surrender our will. Hard, because it is so easy we think we do not need it. Jesus is the one and only way, the gate that is narrow, the way that is difficult and to say otherwise neutralizes the majesty and holiness of Jesus, His teaching, and it cheapens His Gospel. Added to this, we have so many false religions, cults, lifestyles and ways of living, we can be overwhelmed and confused. The price for choosing the wrong or wide gate will lead us from recovery back to our hurt and pain. And doing so will be the ultimate cost of eternal consequences and despair. Do not cheat yourself and exchange what seems easy and fun for ultimate loneliness and desolation.
Narrow gate: The illustration of two gates is from Ezra and would be familiar to all first century Jews, as that passage is about coming back from captivity to rebuild the temple and wall (Ezra 4). One leads to Life (water, food), the other leads to death (waste and dung). This represents the beginning to the "Way" that leads to life and for us our healing and recovery (Matt. 14:6; 16:24; 25:46; John 10:1-18). The narrowness is not determined by God's anger or callousness, rather by our free will and sin that rebels (Mt 6:14-20), so He has to chase after us. Many still refuse His grace (Matt. 22:14).
The wide gate represents the beginning of the life of destruction; as what is seemingly free and open allows us to believe whatever we want. It does not require our will, because our will becomes the controlling factor. Materialism, hatred, refusing to forgive, prejudice and the rest of the rotten fruits will take hold and glue us to that destructive lifestyle, then rationalize it as good. It seems the easy path, but will soon be more difficult and destructive that we could have thought (2 Thess. 1:7-9; Rev. 20:15; 21:8).
The life of recovery, as well as the Christian life, requires the surrender of our will, as in self-denial and obedience, to Him (Rom. 6:3-7; 17-22). Few people desire to be convicted or challenged in their thinking or comfort zone, which they see as confining or bigoted. (Matt. 28:19-20).
Difficult is the Christian way. To teach that it is easy is true on the surface; however, it minimizes who and what Christ did and the price He paid (Acts 14:21-22). It also minimizes the realization of how much you have been forgiven and how much sin corrupts and destroys. We will go through difficulties and sufferings, but these cannot distract us; rather, we need to see the hope and glory we have to come.
Our recovery and the Christian life can be difficult journeys! We live in a fallen world corrupted by sin. Consequently, all we do is imperfect and a struggle. We will make choices that affect the direction in which we proceed in life and in relationships. In so doing, we affect others around us in both positive and negative ways. Yet, when our efforts and motivations are centered upon being righteous, we will do as we are called to do and even be blessed for it.
As Christ's disciples, we must be willing to be led by the truth of His Word and by our faith and trust in Him. Everything that is worthy and excellent requires more work, from painting a house to preaching the Word. This journey of difficulty should not discourage us because it will build us up to be much better, stronger and of better use to God as we put into practice what He puts in us (Phil. 2:12-13).
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