Two Gates-Two Paths
by naomi Cassata 9/22/2009 / Christian Living
When I was 4 years old, I was swimming at the beach with my family. I was in knee deep water when all of a sudden I stepped into a hole that went over my head. It turned out to be an undertow. The suction was so strong; I could barely keep my head above water. I struggled to get out but nothing seemed to help. I was terrified that I was about to drown! Right when I thought I couldn't stay above water any longer, a couple nearby spotted me. The man reached his hand out and pulled me from death's grip. I was exhausted and scared, but so very thankful for this stranger's saving hand.
This horrible experience is a constant reminder of how fragile life is. When I think back, I can still feel the anxiety I felt back then. Thankfully though, there was a rescuer nearby who saved me from what appeared to be the inevitable. As bad as this whole ordeal was, there is an even worse type of drowning that millions are experiencing every day. It has nothing to do with water; but rather, the state of their spiritual lives. After death there is an eternity waiting every soul, and how we live our lives here will follow us into that forever. Unless we cling to our Rescuer, Jesus Christ, we will end up in an eternity of despair.
THREE PERSPECTIVES ON LIFE
Many look at life and exclaim "Life is Good!" as if their existence is simply about having a good time. They go on living each day without any concern for their eternal destination as they engage themselves in the world's current affairs. Throwing themselves into the pleasures of the world has become their reason for living. Their only gratification comes from their weekend leisure. Conviction is thrown by the wayside and they lash out at anyone who disapproves of their immoral choices.
Still, you have others who acknowledge their depravity and realize there is a bigger picture than this temporary world, so they begin to search. They find God with only momentary delight. They learn that a life devoted to God requires separation from the lusts of the world, but their indulgencies are much too delicious to let go of. They juggle the two throughout their lives never fully giving themselves over to God. They attend church, associate with church people and know the church lingoes. From the outside, they look like "normal Christianity." Yet, at the end of their life, they will look back with much regret: knowing the truth, and yet not living it. This group is actually in a much more pitiful state than the first.
Then you have, as the Bible describes, the "few" that turn to God with all their heart. Their lives are not one of worldly indulgencies because pleasing God has become their number one passion. Laying down their lives, to be more like the Good Shepherd, is their daily ambition. Their character is one of forgiveness, servant hood, meekness and sacrifice. Their honor for God is lived out in their daily lives, and is not based on their weekend church attendance. They are true reflections of their Master.
Which group do you belong to? Only one will make it to Heaven.
Life offers two separate paths to walk down. The first is a broad one. This is the one that most of the world is strutting down. The gate you must enter to reach this path is just as wide as the path is. It invites various religious groups and has many enticements along the way. This broad path offers a variety of entertainments, lusts, luxuries, self indulgencies and the best part is without any conviction. If it feels good, then it is welcomed on the broad path. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. (Matthew 7:13) The people on this road do not see the end of their lives. They are the first group I talked about that goes through life enjoying every moment along the way, taking no thought to what lies ahead at the end of the path. This is the most popular road because it is the most fun with minimal restraints.
The second gate is less appealing. It is so narrow and the path isn't any better. It is not an easy one to follow. Once you've stepped through the gate, you will find a path much different from the previous one. It requires self denial, which is why so few will be willing to enter. Someone asked him, "Lord, are only a few people going to be saved?" He said to them, "Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. (Luke 13:23-24) It is a difficult path to walk down because it requires lots of sacrifice on our part. Many will be intrigued by this path because at the end of the road is eternal life. But not many will be willing to walk down it. Only those that are willing to surrender their lives to follow Christ will be allowed to venture down. Then Jesus said to his disciples, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. (Matthew 16:24) If we aren't willing to deny ourselves, we aren't worthy of Christ.
The second group we talked about sees this narrow gate and knows the reward at the end. The reward interests them and they claim to have found the "Light." Yet, when you examine their lifestyle, it is not any different from the first group. They watch the same movies and television shows, listen to the same music, laugh at the same dirty jokes, gossip behind others backs, hold grudges against those that have wronged them, do not honor God with their choices and even go as far as mocking those that are on the narrow path for their "narrow mindedness." They see themselves as non-controversial Christians who can blend Christianity and the world together as one without being too radical. Sure they attend church every Sunday, can quote the most popular scriptures, they may even wear a cross around their necks, but none of these are true fruits of Christianity. Through their actions it is obvious they do not know Him.
WALKING AS JESUS WALKED
The world is full of darkness (sin). Sin is no longer called what it is. Society calls them "personal choices," and for anyone to oppose them would get them labeled intolerant or judgmental. Despite what others think of us, we are to live like Jesus lived. Jesus described Himself as the light of the world, and as His followers, we too must be lights in the darkness. (John 8:12)
Salvation is not a mere ticket out of hell. Rather, it is a gift to those that while on earth, took the narrow path during their pursuit after Christ. Being a follower of Christ is not just a claim to His name. It is living as He did.