Which gate will you open? Which path will you follow? We are faced with these questions daily but take little thought of them. Do we follow the crowd? Do we go along to get along or play the part of the rebel? I remember my High School Football coach saying that there was the right way, the wrong way, and my way. You can guess which way he wanted his team to go. But in the end, the choice is still ours. Jesus said, “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
We know the power of the crowd. How following its ways can be fulfilling, satisfying, and loaded with confirmation. We often judge success by the size of the crowd and its engagement. It used to be that we would need to seek out the crowd but now through Social Media, we can invite it into our homes. But the crowd is fickle with attitudes and rules that quickly change. The crowd can also be, well, mean, especially when someone rejects their direction. That rejection is the one real thing the crowd hates.
It is perhaps easy to identify the broad highway and large gate that leads to destruction. But it is much harder to identify the small gate and the narrow path that leads to life. On the surface separating from the crowd, doing our own thing, even putting away all of our connections to the outside world would seem to be it, but it’s not. You see, a life of determined separation from the crowd is still being motivated by the crowd, only in a negative sense. We can avoid all the crowd-like words, actions, and thoughts and still be controlled by the crowd. That is not the narrow way.
That small narrow gate is Jesus. Not Jesus in a religious sense filled with the rules of another crowd but Jesus in the real and personal sense. The way is narrow, a crowd won’t fit through it.
Following Jesus often contradicts common sense. We come to him one on one, but practice faith in community with others on the path. The way is narrow but open to all who discover it. Even though it seems like a binary choice of this way or that way it is really His way. Neither are we looking back trying to discern what Jesus would do but we are listening for what Jesus wants us to do now.
In this command, Jesus lays a choice before us. Follow the crowd or follow me. You can’t do both. Yes, sometimes we will be in large groups, sometimes we’ll be alone with the Holy Spirit. The number of those around us is not the point, it’s the direction we’re traveling and why we are going that way.
The way is narrow that leads to life. In the Gospel of John Jesus said, “Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:9–10, NLT)
Jesus says to enter the narrow gate