One of the things Betty and I try to do while vacationing is find local places to eat at instead of always going to nationwide franchises. It’s gotten a little easier to hunt out unique and excellent restaurants with GPS and various smartphone apps. Invariably though we’ll do a drive-by to see how busy they are. More than once we’ve pulled up to a place during lunchtime or the supper hour and seeing very few cars or trucks decided to try something else. But then there was a recent experience with a pizza place that shows that the crowd is not always right. Let’s just say that even though the dining room was full and their carry-out window was busy that we were not exactly impressed.
Being part of a crowd often confirms something in us. It makes us feel more confident that we are on the right path or in the right place. I remember attending the Promise Keeper stadium events and singing Amazing Grace with 40,000 plus other men. There was a tangible feeling of unity and togetherness during those times. All of us have also experienced feeling alone in a crowd. Perhaps when trying to navigate around a busy store at Christmas time. Or those times when we were surrounded by peers at school or work but we felt out of place, alone, or isolated. In times like that, we are tempted to go along to get along, to follow the crowd to feel that we have value.
Jesus warned us about following to crowd, “Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13–14, NASB95) Just because a lot of people, even the vast majority of folks, decide to go one direction doesn’t mean it’s right. Making life choices with eternal significance is a lot different than choosing which restaurant to eat at. Choosing the narrow gate doesn’t mean that we are doomed to a life of isolation like some hermit living in the Alaskan wilderness. It does mean that the crowd no longer determines our value or our actions.
The biggest decision a person can make is whether to pass through the narrow gate. It’s only wide enough for one person. We may have come to the gate with a crowd like the those at a Billy Graham Crusade, or with a small group of friends, or with our family, but we must decide as an individual to open the gate and walk with Jesus on our own. On the other side is a whole new group of people, a family larger than can be imagined. Many of the folks that walked up to the gate with us may be there, but there are millions of others that are also walking with Jesus, also being encouraged, transformed, corrected, gifted, challenged, and inspired.
One of Satan’s many whispers is that we are alone. His lies seek to convince us that by choosing the narrow gate we have become small, insignificant, unwanted, and foolish. And listening to the news and seeing the events of our day we may feel that we are powerless; incapable of meeting the challenge of a world that has chosen the broad way of sin and self. We end up feeling like the lone cowboy facing a stampeding herd racing towards certain destruction. Or maybe it’s not quite that dramatic and we are just overwhelmed by life. In either event, we are not alone, small, insignificant, unwanted, or foolish. It is not us against the world or our troubles; it is us and Jesus and a whole host of other followers of Christ – and that makes all the difference.
My invitation and challenge today is plain and simple. If you have not chosen to walk through the narrow gate with Jesus, I invite you to do so. It is scary to leave the comfort of the crowd, but the joy that is on the other side is indescribable. If you want to know more about choosing the narrow gate check out this page – How to Receive God’s Love. If you have chosen the narrow gate and walk with Jesus, my challenge to you is to see if you’ve fallen into the enemy’s trap of isolation and the lie that nothing we do will matter. We have the King of king’s ear, we are his children and his ambassadors. It’s time we stop playing by the world’s rules. It is time to stop wringing our hands in defeat. It is time to continually, lovingly, and self-sacrificially, pray for God’s kingdom to invade the lives of those choosing the way of the crowd.