I used to really strive to be enough on my own. I wanted to be a strong, independent woman who didn’t need anybody, especially not a man. I worked hard to be anything but the damsel in distress. I wanted to be the hero of my own story. I tried to live out this pinterest quote, strong woman life. Maybe on the outside, I fit the image I was trying to convey pretty well. But on the inside, I perpetually felt crushed. No amount of determination or self reliance chipped away at this feeling that it would never, ever be enough. I would never be enough.
And that gut feeling I had was right. Jesus knew this and said as much in this next portion of the Sermon on the Mount.
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.
We’re all chasing life. We chase it in may different ways, but we’re all seeking it out. Some search for life in their careers and money. They put their identity in what they do and try to be the best worker or gain the biggest income. Some search for life in romantic relationships. They are perpetually dating seeking validation and status by who they’re with. Some search for life in diet and exercise. They think if they just lose another ten pounds or look a certain way they’ll finally find satisfaction. Some search for life in their reputation. They assume if enough people like them and see them as good, they’ll start feeling good. Some search for life in drugs and alchohol. They ration if they numb themselves enough, they won’t have to deal with the unpleasant realities around them. Some even search for life in the church. They go every Sunday, volunteer, and work hard to be the “good Christian” they think they need to be to be accepted by God. And some, like me, search for life in their independence. They believe they’re the only one who they can count on and the only one who will never fail them.
These, while some seem outright wrong and others we deem as good, are all wide gates and broad roads. These are the highways to hell we travel down.
Please don’t take this out of context: I don’t believe all of these things are inherently wrong. We need jobs we excel at and money to survive. We were build for relationships. Gathering with saints and helping each other is biblical! Beauty, reputation, and independence are not things to be scorned. Even drinking alcohol on occasion isn’t a sin! Rather, we make these good things bad when we make them our gods instead of the one true God. We set our feet on the path towards destruction when we seek life out of anything short of Jesus.
My yearning for self reliance became a god to me. I didn’t want anyone or anything to be a crutch to me. I wanted to stand on my own two feet. But my feet will always fail me. My ways will lead me down a journey where I don’t like the destination. Me claiming to be enough on my own was me shouting at God, “I DON’T NEED YOU,” when in reality, all I need is God.
Proverbs 14:12 says, “there is a path before each person that seems right, but it ends in death.” Don’t be misled! There’s a lot of good things God gave us in life. Yet, if we love the created more than the creator, not only can we not be able to fully enjoy the creation, but we will lose it and our lives with it. Seeking life in anything short of the God who is there will lead us to death.
But small is the gate and narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
This should concern us: “only a few find it.” Yet, there are so many people out there who claim they are going to heaven. I would even risk saying there are many out there who claim christianity yet are still in danger of hell. Do we know people who think they’ve found life but are missing out on life eternally? Are we those people?
There’s a lot of places, as said earlier, where we search and believe we have found life. But Jesus is clear, any path to life that does not lead us in faith to him is actually a highway to hell.
This small gate and narrow path that we are called to walk down is simple in concept but hard in execution. The concept of salvation by the grace of God alone is beautiful and inviting yet also incomprehensible and foreign. The essence of salvation is denying ourselves and anything we could possibly do to earn heaven. We have to surrender our will and our efforts to find life outside of God. Instead we must acknowledge that God’s ways are higher and better than ours and daily trust him and walk according to his word in grace. Our life must have little to do with us as and everything to do with the One who made us. Salvation by grace is simple enough, but our rebellious, independent souls make it much more challenging to enter by this small gate.
I want us each to take time to seriously evaluate where it is we are searching for life. How are we trying to earn the unachievable? Where are we placing a god in exchange for the one true God? Are we looking for life in the created or the Creator? Jesus is clear: there are many ways that lead to death, but there is only one way that leads to life. Make sure you’re apart of the few who find the right, true way that leads to life.
“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the light. No one comes to the Father except through me.'”