THE WIDE PATH THAT LEADS TO HEAVEN

I LOVE Toy Story 3.  I’m pretty sure it’s the best animated film of all time and yes, I get choked up when Andy reminisces and plays with that cute little girl who takes ownership of Woody, Buzz and the rest of the crew.  There’s this scene at the end when the little crew of Andy’s toys are helplessly descending on a conveyer belt into a huge landfill fire.  They hold hands and anticipate a fiery end.  If they actually got burned up, parents would have picketed Pixar Films for sure.

In Matthew 7:13, Jesus says,

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.”

Because of this passage, I’ve always visualized billions of people on a similar “Toy Story like” conveyer belt, entering hell by the masses.  This scripture, my friends, is proof that most everyone who ever lived will go to hell and be punished forever.  Or is it?

Toby wrote a hell of a post months ago and addressed the mentality of choosing hell.  You can read it right here.  Basically, he makes a case that God simply grants people what they have always been after:  autonomy.

And Matthew 7:13 nails all of those pagan assholes that are autonomously living for self rather than God, ending in destruction, right? While the “good guys,” us Christians, admirably choose the harder path less traveled by and “that has made all the difference” (a little Robert Frost plug here).

But wait a second.  You mean to tell me that all Christians are on a narrow path that keeps us from destruction, “making all the difference?”  So basically, no Christians are destroying their lives with pornography?  No Christians have resorted to a life of materialism, never fulfilling the insatiable desire for more? No Christians have committed suicide?

None of this jives with the facts. One 2006 study found that 50 percent of Christian men and 20 percent of Christian women reported bring addicted to pornography.1 Empty Tomb, a Christian research group, found that church member giving hit a low point unseen since the Great Depression. Tithing has been on a steady decline over the past four years, the longest period of continuous decline between 1968 and 2011.2 Followers of religions that strongly prohibit suicide, like Christianity and Islam, have a higher suicide rate than those religions which have no strong prohibition (e.g. Buddhism and Hinduism).3

This passage just can’t mean that all Christians are on the “good path,” always saturated with good works and little sin. Last time I checked, most Christians aren’t living on this elitist pathway of non-destruction. I mean just look at the list of elite church leaders that have fallen and this is just off the top of my head: Televangelist Jim Bakker, Televangelist Jimmy Swaggart, Pastor Ted Haggard, Worship Leader King Steve Fee, and most recently Pastor Bob Coy. These are spiritual heavyweights with sexual affairs, one lasting for 7 years, an extra-marital homosexual affair, drug abuse, financial greed and thievery, and long-term “prostitute-sex addiction.” (For an awesome in depth discussion on moral failings in the church, check out out podcast here with guest Geoff Surratt).

But all Christians, obviously including these guys, are on a narrow path, eh. The nobler path.  #smdh

I just don’t read the Matthew 7 passage like this anymore because quite frankly, it doesn’t make any sense that way.  Let me ask you this?  When is the last time you’ve seen a Christian’s actions look nothing different than a non-believer? If you aren’t sure, maybe record yourself for a day (for some of you WAY holier folks, it may take TWO days of recording, but you’ll eventually get some good footage).

I believe there’s a dang good chance that Jesus is talking here in this passage about “life on Earth.” And I certainly don’t see these paths relating to us being perfect reflections of God. Let me break it down this way:

 

Category 1: (1) Righteous or (2) Unrighteous

Righteous – Jesus

Unrighteous – every other human who has ever lived

 

Category 2:  (1) People who live the majority of their lives to better the world and help others and (2) people who live for selfish pleasure.

People who live the majority of their lives to better the world – Lots of believers and lots of unbelievers

People who live for selfish pleasure – Lots of believers and lots of unbelievers

 

Category 3:  (1) People who have obtained Jesus’ righteousness and (2) those who haven’t.

People who’ve obtained Jesus’ righteousness – Believers in Jesus

Those who haven’t – Unbelievers

 

Category 4:  (1) Those who choose the narrow path and (2) those who choose the path of destruction.

Narrow path – People who keep coming to Jesus, whether they are greatly struggling with sin or not, but generally are always trying to yield to Jesus’ spirit.

Wide path of destruction – People who aren’t yielding to Jesus, nor see Him as the ultimate Savior of the world.  Some of these folks may look like they are on the narrow-path, akin to the Pharisees in Jesus’ days.

 

I mean, in 1 Corinthians 3:15, Paul talks about Christians who basically built on the foundation of Jesus a bunch of worthless doggie doodle that I’m sure led to destruction while they were here on Earth. And yet, because they kept coming back to Jesus, knowing He’s the only way, they eventually entered heaven, “even though it only as one escaping through the flames.”

In John 10:10, we read that Jesus gives life and He gives it in the fullest amount. Personally, I live out this given life in the fullest……rarely. Why rarely?  Because this “full life” that He talks about doesn’t include worry, self-condemnation, pride, and worshiping things; all of which I am constantly struggling with.  Could this be the wide path that leads to destruction that Jesus talked about?  Or could it be that the narrow-path sometimes just doesn’t look all that good?

Either way, it’s about time we stop seeing the “narrow-path” as always being neat, tidy, sinless, “see my halo,” “I’m always above reproach” deacon meets bishop, saint.

At the end of the day, I see people who sin all the time while on the narrow path, and people who sin less on the broad path. Think of the “sinners” who followed Jesus, compared with the Pharisees who didn’t. One group certainly sinned more – Jesus never tried to deny that. But they were also the group more likely on the narrow path. I guess I’m at the very least pretty convinced that the “narrow path” doesn’t necessarily mean less sin and “broad path” more sin. It’s about where one is trying to get. The narrow path can certainly mean following Jesus in the midst of your sin, and the broad path can be defying Jesus in the midst of your goodness.

That’s my two cents.  All glory to Jesus