Do you look for the easy way through life? The broad gateways, the wide paths, the straight routes and the flat journey?
Or do you search out the narrow way? The difficult, the meandering, wandering journey with no map or signposts to show you what’s ahead?
According to Matthew, the easy way isn’t all that easy after all. He says that the easy way, the broad gate, will only lead to destruction but to choose the small, narrow gateway will lead to life and fulfillment. I wonder what he means when he says “only a few find it”?
I know that I am guilty of choosing the path of least resistance sometimes, especially when it comes to difficult conversations with people, or with confrontations that I’d rather not have to encounter but I’ve always found that just because the pathway is “easy” the destination is not at all pleasant or welcoming. For an example, rather than have a painful conversation with someone I love very dearly, I am limping along putting up with pain and doubt and even fear sometimes, just so as I don’t have to go through that narrow gateway of a “we need to talk about this” conversation with them. It’s easier to just carry on in a straight line and live with the pain – I’m sure I’m not alone, and I’m sure if we put our minds to it there are many, MANY more examples like this that we live with every day.
But why do we do this?
It’s not just personal relationships either is it; it is the choices we make about how we earn our living, or entertain ourselves, or the food choices we make each day. We know that to be completely fulfilled in our lives we need certain things in place – security, love, food, a sense of achievement, a sense of belonging, something that we can contribute to etc – but we quite often choose the wrong things, the “broad gateways” if you like, to find that fulfillment. How much easier is it to conform to something not quite right just so as to belong to a group of people than it is to stand up for something else and be alone? We see children generation after generation “falling in with the wrong crowd” just so they fit in somewhere. We see the pack mentality of gangs when they fight each other, often to death. We see people turn a blind eye to child cruelty and neglect because we “don’t want to make a fuss”.
These are all “broad gateway” choices. They are easy to negotiate and the path is laid clearly before us but ultimately they just lead to more confusion and pain.
So what about the other gate, the narrow one? The one where instead of joining a gang just so as to belong, a 15 year old boy makes a stand and doesn’t join in but risks being a “loner” for the rest of his life. Or the neighbour who hears a child being shouted at day in and day out making that phone call that could make a difference to that child’s life, despite the chance of retaliation from its parents? These are the narrow gateway choices; difficult to negotiate, hard to see what’s on the other side and only room to walk through alone.
Matthew offers us hope by reminding us that even though we feel alone, we are not alone at all. God walks with us every step of the way, especially when there’s only room for one person to go through the gateway at a time, and by choosing the narrow gateway we too may find fulfilment in him.