“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.”
For so many years I believed this verse was about the eternal destiny of my soul. It was a warning that the gates of hell are wide and God is willing to let you fall in. To find the narrow road to heaven, I needed to have the correct theology, perfect beliefs, legitimate hermeneutics.
Getting to heaven is difficult. It’s a narrow road with cliff edges on either side, leading to to eternal damnation and suffering in the pit of hell. Where thirst is never quenched and fire never burns out.
But I have come to find that these ancient, mystic stories, which have changed the course of human history, were focused so much more on life as it exists now. It has become apparent to me that Jesus was not nearly as concerned with experiences after death as he was with experiences before death.
In this passage from Matthew, Jesus is issuing a warning yes, but he is also stating a pretty simple truth.
Study the faces of the people you are interacting with.
Try to discern motivations. Why do people do the things they do. Good and bad.
Now examine yourself. How do you feel? Are you anxious, frustrated, concerned, restless?
At your core, do you feel a burning uneasiness that is consuming you?
When you really take the time and analyze these things, does it not seem that so many of us are destroying ourselves? We ingest drugs and alcohol to change our perception of the present, to numb the pain, to distract us from the anxiety. We consume unhealthy amounts of food, giving in to our base instincts of survival. This is not uncommon. It’s everywhere.
The majority of internet usage is related to pornography. That fact alone is telling. It’s a warning sign. Wide is the path to destruction.
The world is sending us messages constantly. Whatever media you are consuming, the books you read, the movies you watch, the people you choose to spend time with, they are all telling you something.
Are these messages beneficial or are they destructive? Are they bringing you life or are they sucking it out of you?
Jesus tells his followers there is a different way to live in this world. It’s narrow. Not many people have discovered it. Not many people are living in that world.
Loving others unconditionally.
Starting with original grace.
Seeing the world as one.
Believing you are enough, you are worthy.
Understanding that experience itself is a gift.
We are a pattern of energy, brought to life by the universe itself. Forged in the fires of a burning star, all the elements of which we are composed were formed in these cosmic factories. Over time, life has emerged and consciousness with it. The universe can now experience itself. I would argue there is nothing more awe inspiring and spiritual than contemplating these things.
To understand the gift is difficult.
The gift of simply experiencing.
It is indeed a narrow path and incredibly difficult to truly grasp. But I think that is the life Jesus is referring to. It’s a life that sees the world in an entirely different way. It sees all things as incomprehensibly meaningful yet meaningless.
It is a way of life that calls us deeper into a mystery and into a loving embrace of paradox.
Although the path to life is narrow, the experience is wide.
There is a broadness to the love, the acceptance, and the grace for others and for yourself.
From death comes life.
From struggle comes peace.
Through the narrow path comes a wide and abundant life.