Author: Ron Graham
Why Walk a Narrow Road?
—The Difficult Road Through Life
Jesus tells us to make a wise choice of the path we follow in this life. He says, "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction. Many go in that way. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:13-14).
Why enter by the narrow gate and walk the difficult path that few follow? Why not rather follow the crowds and take the easy road? Few pay heed to the answer Jesus gives. People generally walk the easy road without respect for faith or reason.
So why do a few choose to enter by the narrow gate and walk an unpopular and difficult road? The answer is clear enough in Jesus’s words, but people listen to their own misconceptions instead of to him. Let's answer the question simply, addressing the misconceptions.
So why walk a narrow and difficult road?
1 Not Because the Road is Narrow.
Many people seem to think that dedicated Christians find pleasure in restricting their lives with religious obligations and taboos, such as “going to church;” no sex outside of marriage; and loving your enemies.
The many see this narrowness as a kind of spartan strictness practised for its own sake. They assume the self‑discipline and self‑denial of the narrow way is an end in itself —although they find it incomprehensible.
Certainly, real Christians do deny self. They are like Moses who "valued reproach for Christ above the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking ahead to his reward" (Hebrews 11:26)
Real Christians practise self‑discipline and a form of austerity. "Those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires" (Galatians 5:24). "For what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ" (Philippians 3:7).
And Jesus gave us one of his hard sayings to remember as we walk the narrow path: Any one of you who does not give up everything he has, cannot be My disciple. (Luke 14:33).
But Christians don't live this way as an end in itself but rather as a means to an end. We will clarify that end later, before we close this lesson. For now it is enough to say that our walk down the narrow and difficult road is the path to our goal, not the goal itself.
2 Not Because Few Travel the Road.
Many people seem to think that Christians believe themselves to be above everybody else, and prefer to live in their own little world. They count themselves the few chosen ones who separate themselves from the masses. Their “fellowship” is seen as very exclusive.
It's true that Christians "do not love the world or the things in the world... the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life..." (1John 2:15-16). But this does not mean that we shun the people of the world.
It's true that Christians "have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness" (Ephesians 5:11). But this does not mean that we shun the people in darkness.
Jesus tells us to "go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation..." (Mark 16:15-16). Being on the narrow and difficult road does not prevent or excuse us from trying to win people off the wide road and on to the narrow road with us.
We walk the narrow way in the hope spoken to Daniel, that although the wide road has many on it compared to the narrow road, the few on the narrow road are still many. "Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand" (Daniel 12:10).
Our Christian goal is to walk the narrow way to the very end, and bring as many as possible with us. We'd rather it was many, not few. To be few is not our aim.
3 But Because the Road Leads to Life.
Christians walk the narrow road because it's the only road to where they want to go. Their goal is to reach their eternal home. They walk the narrow road because it "leads to life" (Matthew 7:13-14).
If you really want to arrive at a certain place, you have to follow a way that leads there. That's a “no‑brainer” as they say. If there's only one way there, you have no choice but to take it, even if it means travelling a narrow and difficult track used by few.
A physical road like that may be attractive to people in recreational off road vehicles. However, we are talking about the way to eternal life. There's only one way there, a difficult road.
Those who travel that road don't travel it for fun. Rather they look forward to their joy at the end of the journey.
I press toward the goal
for the prize
of the upward call of God
in Christ Jesus