Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Straight and narrow?

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Matthew 7:13-14).

Our Lord uses a parallel construction here, using a pair of synonyms to describe each way.  Wide and broad give us a picture of a gate that is spacious enough to let anything pass through and an equally spacious highway that leads on from there.  On the other hand, narrow and strait speak of a gate and a way that are too restricted for us to carry any baggage that is not needed on the way.

Somehow, in our common parlance, we have exchanged strait for straight and now speak of the straight and narrow way.  This is not what Jesus said.  The broad way is made for easy travelling with no steep hills and curves that are almost imperceptible  but turn us little by little towards a destination that is different than the one we thought we were heading for when we started out on our journey.

Travelling the narrow way will sometimes bring us to a mountain that seems impossible to climb.  Sometimes it will lead us straight into danger, at other times it requires us to make a sharp turn to avoid temptation.  It is not an easy road to travel, sometimes the destination is hidden from view, but those who persevere along this pathway will arrive at their intended destination.

Having said that, what shall we then do with the following passage of Scripture?  Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth (Luke 3:5, quoting Isaiah 40:4).

I am inclined to think that this does not refer to making the circumstances of the way any easier, but of the grace of God that gives us victory when the way seems impossible.  Ten of the men sent to spy out Canaan came back with frightening tales of the giants who lived there, “and we were in our own sight as grasshoppers, and so we were in their sight”.  Joshua and Caleb saw things differently: “neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.”

Forty years later the giants were still there, dwelling on the mountain.  Caleb, now 80 years old, came to Joshua and requested: Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.

And he did.  For those who trust God as Caleb did, the mountains are never insurmountable.

I'd love to hear what you think about this. Please leave a comment.

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