“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.” – Matthew 7:13-14
We live in troubled times.
People are hurting and dealing with issues I can’t even imagine.
Racial discrimination and injustice; those who protect us here and abroad live in constant fear that they may not make it home alive; individuals and families struggle with illness, abuse, unemployment, the death of a close friend, or caring for a sick parent or child.
With 24/7 news coverage constantly flooding our senses with violence, hatred, and murder, and the threat of terrorism becoming overwhelming, it is only natural that we seek a way of escape.
The Lord has shown me that in these times of trouble; when it’s all too heavy; when we say “Enough!” and we seek that way of escape, whether we are conscious of it or not, we have come to a crossroads.
For in those moments of stress, weakness, and frustration, there are two voices calling out to you; both saying, “Come, follow me.”
Although they speak the same words, the roads which they call from are diametrically opposed.
For one voice calls from the narrow road which leads to life, and the other voice calls from the broad road which leads to destruction.
What do you follow?
We all follow so many things as a way of escape from reality.
Our favorite shows on Netflix, athletics, celebrity gossip, reality television.
We follow other people and are followed ourselves, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other social media sites.
As has happened with the latest craze of Pokémon Go, we get excited about a new game or app, which allow us a tiny bit of escape.
There is nothing wrong with enjoying a video game, movie, television show, a concert, or sporting event with your family and friends.
But when that thing takes control of you, when you go to it before you go to Jesus for comfort and peace of mind, you make that thing your idol; your “god.”
And The Lord God’s first two commandments are:
“You shall have no other gods before Me.”
“You shall not make idols.”
As Jesus said, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.”
Sadly, we seek escape in anything and everything but Jesus.
As a child, my ways of escape were television, art, video games and sports.
As a young man, they were music, alcohol, and sex.
These things were my “gods.”
I sought solace, strength, joy, and fulfillment in each of them at different times.
When one didn’t work, I would move on to the next.
I was always searching for something new.
Nothing ever satisfied.
The things of this world which I thought would fill me, always left me empty.
I have heard the same sentiments from others as well.
Even something as simple as a television series which you have invested time in, when the series concludes and the excitement wears off, it leaves you a bit let down.
You say to yourself, “That’s it?”
Then, when reality bears down again, you move on to the next thing, and the next thing; always seeking refuge in something new; always going farther down the broad road seeking escape.
Before you know it, your mind has become so focused on that thing, that one day you look up from your phone, from the television, from the whiskey or pill bottle, and you are lost, but the problems still remain.
When that diversion reaches its eventual end, the thing you have desired to escape from is right there waiting for you.
When you awake, as we did last Friday morning, to the news of 84 dead and 202 injured in Nice, France; when the racial, social, and political turmoil are still there; when the violence, murder, abuse, and injustice are still there; when the weight of the day bears down, you will find yourself once again, standing at that crossroads.
Once again, you will hear the two voices calling you in opposite directions.
Once again, you will have to decide.
Which way will you go?
More often than not, if we are honest with ourselves, we turn to that which is easy; that which offers fast relief; a quick fix.
That is why Jesus said that “many” take this road.
The gate is wide and the road is broad, offering many different options; many different ways of escape.
The broad road demands no accountability for your actions.
If it feels good do it.
But the voice from the narrow road does not promise,”easy.”
Jesus does not promise you a quick-fix or a worry free life.
In fact, He says in John 16:33, “In this world, you will have trouble.”
But He then says, “take heart! I have overcome the world.”
“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace.”
If you follow Him, Jesus promises to supply your need.
He promises to give you the power of His Holy Spirit to persevere through the pain and the struggles.
He promises salvation at the end of that narrow road; an eternal escape from sin, death, and the wickedness and burdens of this world.
But Jesus does not promise,“easy.”
Jesus said, “Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever clings to their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
He is saying you must die daily to your agenda; to your natural desire to do what you want, and not what you ought.
You must turn from your human instinct and follow His example, and pursue Christlikeness.
Jesus says if you surrender your life to Him you will find eternal life.
But if you cling to your way of life here; if you want to continue doing things your way, if you love the things of this world, you will loose your life.
You will perish.
That is why Jesus says that “few” find this road.
It requires surrender, and we don’t want to give up our rights, our freedom; our way of doing things.
Even though we are afraid, and we see the crowd running toward the easy way, the narrow road is the way we must travel.
As Robert Frost so eloquently wrote:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Who follows you?
This past Friday morning, as I watched the news stories on the attack in Nice, I heard a young lady being interviewed about her experience.
The audio of her voice played underneath footage of people running for their lives down the seaside promenade.
She said “I just started running. I didn’t know where they were going, but I followed the crowd hoping they were running in the right direction.”
I thank God for her that they were.
Whether you are conscious of it or not, there is always someone following your lead, hoping and trusting that you are going in the right direction.
It may be a spouse, a child, a brother or sister, a niece or nephew, friend, neighbor or co-worker. Even your parents may look to you for guidance.
If we listen to the wrong voice; if we are running the wrong way, we become what Jesus referred to as blind guides.
Jesus says, “If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into a pit.”
If we seek escape in the things of this world, those who follow us will do in like manner, and we will eventually lead those who place their faith and trust in our leadership into a pit; into destruction.
Remember this: “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.”
But, if we are following Jesus, we will lead them to life, to the true way of escape from the wickedness and evil of this world.
If I’m going to reach that destination; if I am going to make it out alive and hope to lead others there as well, I have to be sure I am following the right voice.
I have to keep my eyes on Jesus and walk the path that He walks.
There is no GPS.
There is no app for that.
When Jesus moves, I move; when He says stop, I stop; when He says speak, I speak. and when He says to remain silent, I remain silent.
If I take my eyes off of Him, if I become distracted and look to the right or to the left, I will end up getting lost.
Then, those who follow me will be lost as well.
Please understand, you and I will be held accountable for those who follow us.
We will have to answer for where we have led them.
“Each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.”
No Other Way
We will all go through times when our eyes and our thoughts become captivated by the things they shouldn’t.
We will seek escape and comfort in the things of this world.
Being human, we are easily led down the wrong path.
But be encouraged, because “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” -1 Corinthians 10:13
When we recognize that we are on the wrong path, we must repent of it.
We must turn away from it.
We must cover our ears to the voice of Satan calling us to the broad way, and run with reckless abandon to the voice of Jesus, calling us to the narrow way.
Jesus will provide the way of escape.
Please, understand this.
All roads to not lead to God.
Jesus is not one of many ways.
Only one way saves you from sin, death, and this evil world.
There is only one voice; one road; only one way of salvation.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to the father except through me.’
There is no other way.
Do you believe this?
Jesus is calling out to you, “Come, follow, Me.”
Jesus is your only hope; the only way of escape.
If you have taken the broad road, turn around.
Go back to the narrow way; the road less traveled.
This is what the Lord has said. “Return to me and I will return to you.”
While it is today, it’s not too late, but as we so frequently see, no one is promised tomorrow.
Today is the day of your salvation.
Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.
Repent Believe Persevere