Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV) “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.”
Jesus never preached universalism, the belief that all people will ultimately be saved, and that all religions ultimately lead to God. He never preached it, because it is tragically very far from the truth.
Every time that Jesus spoke about how to enter the kingdom of God, He always clearly said that the way is narrow and restrictive. He could easily have taken this, or one of several other opportunities, to say that the way into God’s kingdom is wide, and that there are many gates that provide entry onto it. But He clearly says exactly the opposite: a very narrow way, with only one way to enter it, and so restrictive that most people won’t find it.
That sounds to some people like God is making it harder for people than it needs to be. But the fact is that most people don’t find the way not because it is impossible to find, but because they reject the gate that God has provided. Jesus clearly stated that He is the gate into the kingdom (John 10:7), and that He is the way, the truth, and the life – that no one can come to God except through Him (John 14:6). But many reject Jesus, and in doing so, reject the gate. Even those who are willing to accept Jesus as a good man, a great teacher, or even a prophet, still reject Him as THE way into God’s kingdom, and so miss the way as they waste their lives looking elsewhere.
The road of the kingdom is difficult, not as a ploy to keep people out, but because of the simple reality that to walk in it requires denying oneself, and living contrary to the standards and mores of the world system. Such a life puts God’s people into sharp conflict with those who follow the world’s philosophy, and who are willingly trapped in sin, to the point that persecution is often the result.
But the consolation is not just the promise of blessing for those so persecuted (cf. Matthew 5:10-12), but the assurance of God’s presence and His provision along the path, all the way to the gates of heaven.
Father, the way can often be difficult, but I praise You that You have made a way into it through Jesus. Your critics don’t understand that You didn’t have to make a way at all. But You did, and You sent those of us who have found it into the world to show others this one way. Help us to be steadfast in our commitment to this vital job, so that your kingdom continues to grow, as more and more people are led onto Your way. Amen.