Jesus talked about a narrow road. (Matthew 7:13-14, ‘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.’) Why is it a narrow road?
Jesus came to save the world from its sins - ‘For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.’ Therefore, as He had this goal in mind, He never allowed anyone to deter Him from it, not even when Peter in love and devotion thought it wrong that his Master had to suffer (Matthew 16:21-23).
God has a goal in mind for people, just as He had a goal for Jesus. Jesus travelled on the narrow road, to reach His goal. The road was steep, since it had a purpose. The Bible commonly depicts the world as traveling on the broad way. Since this road has no eternal purpose it is broad: you can do what you like. We do find, however, that many people on the broad way have defined very narrow roads for themselves. For example, the businessman who wants to achieve success or the athlete who would like to compete at the Olympics. They set very rigorous, disciplined rules which they keep: they work hard, or practice long hours. They do all that with a purpose and goal that they have set for themselves.
Is God then abnormal to lead us on a narrow road? Is He putting unnecessary burdens on us? No, the world is copying Him. Why would a businessman or athlete work hard, discipline himself and eat the right food? Isn’t it much easier to lounge around, sip cocktails, and work at a leisurely pace? Of course it is, but it leads nowhere. The only difference between God’s narrow road and the world’s, is that God has a long term view, an eternal purpose. The world only concentrates on short term, or for this life. With death, their narrow road comes to an end. With God, death is the gateway to incredibly wonderful things.
What is God’s narrow road then? First of all the only gate to that road is Jesus. That is to make it easy for us: there is only one gate leading to life. (There is no confusion of many choices.) Then the life of discipline starts. Have you ever watched a successful athlete? He is careful to eat the right food, take no drugs (we trust), and see to it that he gets enough rest. He spends relentless hours to prepare his body for the grueling tests. He does it because he keeps his eyes on the goal: the Olympics, or whatever.
Why do consecrated Christians live different lifestyles from the world? For the same reason as the athlete. They want to win a medal. They want to receive the crown of eternal life, to be in the heavenly city of peace and love. The training takes place in this life, since the children of God are already living in the kingdom of God (Colossians 1:13).
This narrow road has other limitations also. A child of God has lost his independence. He is dependent on the leading of the Holy Spirit. (That is no problem, because He wants only the best for us.) The child of God must also love the Lord his God with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his mind, Matthew 22:37. (This is not much of a problem either. It is better to love the Lord eternally than to sit in hell where you are punished for stupidity.) We might object and accuse God that is He is unfair and that the burden is too heavy. Before we do that, just take a second look at what burdens people in the world place on themselves to achieve momentary success, which evaporates at death.
What is God’s opinion about these success driven people? He has no problem with the man who belongs to Him and knows that his first duty is to love God. Talents were given by the Lord, and it pleases Him if they are developed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. But it should never be to the detriment of devotion to Him, or neglect of his family. God would never object to an athlete winning a gold, as long as the athlete’s eye is on the real gold, namely an eternity with the Almighty. That athlete will glorify God by his testimony, and might lead many to Christ.
Man’s ‘narrow’ road ends in death. Death is the great divider, dividing men into the wise and the foolish, according to God’s standards. For the man on God’s narrow road, death is the gateway to eternal wealth, riches, health, happiness and joy. Just as the person with the short time goals is often amply rewarded for all his trouble, so God will reward those who are willing to walk the narrow road, endure the hardships, and keep on persevering.