Matthew 7:13-14 describes the way to a life in God’s presence. There are various interpretations of these verses, most having to do with exclusion. I believe they simply mean we must all come into God’s presence individually. That means stepping away from the 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.” (NASB)
A crowd cannot pass through the entrance described in Matthew. Groups are great, and I love the sense of belonging I get from them; but my relationship with God is personal. I can’t depend upon a church, a denomination, a team, my family, or my friends to replace my relationship with God. Christ came so we could all have an intimate relationship with God, the Father. That humbles and makes us want to disappear into a crowd. Intimacy is intimidating in human relationships, so it’s understandable that many run from intimacy with The Creator. A group date is easier than a candlelight dinner for two, so many miss out on the relationship and the gate.
Families foster love and give the grounding we need when they are healthy, but they can also be our most painful source of disconnection. Corporate worship brings harmony when those present are in one accord, but it creates discord when they aren’t. No group is perfect, and that includes God’s family. We are all broken, and that will not change until we walk through that narrow gate and meet him face-to-face. The gate is not for groups, and groups cannot decide who gets to walk through the gate. It was forged by a love unlike anything we can imagine. A love designed for all, but not accepted by all. The narrowness of the gate is uncomfortable for some, so they choose the wide berth and imagined comfort of a familiar group.
Groups appear to offer protection and safety, but they rarely do. That is especially true when it comes to religion and politics. The need to win, be the best, or be right cause an unhealthy fusion that forces many to stay on the wide path. I hate election years because the divisions seem to get uglier and uglier, but perhaps I’m just paying more attention as I get older. Lines are darker and deeper, and the stakes are higher than ever. So, we choose sides and battle it out or sit on the sidelines and settle into a seething silence. Sadly, the same thing is happening with religion.
Oneness is at the heart of God’s Word, yet the scriptures divide us more than any political campaign can. How it must grieve God to see His children fighting over His Word. The need to be right is at the heart of division. It begins in the family unit, grows in heart, and reaches out into the community. Christ offered a beautiful solution when He took it upon Himself to breach the divide between God and His children. His unconditional, sacrificial love creates a path to a gate that is open and ready when we are willing to step away from the crowd and enter in.