The Easy Way Out – Greg Albrecht
|Before we are allowed to enter the way of Life, we must leave behind all of the religious baggage and traditions that are so precious to us.|
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)
Many read these words and assume they know exactly who is on the road to destruction Jesus was talking about. Surely he was talking about the “eat, drink and be merry” crowd—those who are lazy, immoral and permissive. The broad road must be the irreligious “anything goes” traffic jam of sensation-seeking people who are on the fast track to hell.
There is no doubt that the 16-lane expressway to destruction Jesus was talking about includes a large number of pleasure seekers.
But not everyone on the broad road is morally indulgent and lenient. The broad road includes religious travelers who are taking the religious easy way out.
Think of the bumper-to-bumper traffic on any major interstate highway in a metropolitan area on a Friday afternoon. The broad way is filled with road rage as both groups yell and shake their fists at each other.
The irreligious, some of whom don’t even pretend to be moral, accuse the religious people with whom they share the road to be bigots, hate mongers, narrow minded and homophobic.
Meanwhile, religious legalists hoist their placards, display their bumper stickers and announce boycotts of their fellows, whom they view as immoral road warriors going to hell in a hand basket.
Ironically, most of the religious types who are on the road to destruction think that they are on the narrow road. They have been deceived by religious legalism into thinking that they are moving down the road under a full head of their own righteous steam, produced by the deeds they perform and the things they do. But, convinced that their achievements and accomplishments will persuade God to save them, they are in reality slaves just like their fellow travelers (see Romans, chapters one through three).
So what is the small gate and narrow road then? The small gate is as narrow as a needle’s eye (Matthew 19:24). In order to enter the toll gates of the narrow road, Christians must accept Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation. Before we are allowed to enter the way of Life, we must leave behind all of the religious baggage and traditions that are so precious to us. We must surrender all to him and accept him as the “way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus demands that we leave both sin and religion behind. The Publican and the Pharisee must both repent, leaving their opinions, philosophies and professions behind.
The small gate and the narrow road is Jesus. Nothing more, nothing less. Faith alone, grace alone, Christ alone. We do not drive up to the small gate with our spiritual SUV loaded with all of our good deeds and personal righteousness and suggest that we will combine what we have to offer with Jesus’ help, and together we will form a partnership to journey down the road to Life.
As we arrive at the toll booth we are not invited to offer to split the price of the toll with Jesus. He does not solicit, want or need any contribution from us. We are admitted to the way of Life by grace alone.
According to this passage, there are:
• two ways—easy and hard
• two gates—wide and narrow
• two groups of people—large and small
• two destinations—destruction and life
Are you following the religious herd? Does it make you feel spiritually superior when you yell at sinners? Has someone convinced you that what you do and how you do it is going to persuade God into allowing you into his kingdom of heaven? It’s easy to be deceived by religious legalism. But legalism is the road to destruction.