The Road Less Traveled

As He begins the conclusion to the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus lays before His disciples- and before us – a stark choice. There are two gates; two paths [ways]; and two destinations. Only two. One gate opens wide, and leads to a broad, well-traveled road. You would meet most of your friends and co-workers on it, all heading in the same direction. The other gate is narrow, and opens onto a difficult path, with few travelers. You might feel a bit lonely at times as you trudge along this upward journey. The first road is easy to find, easy to follow. Just go with the crowd. The requirements are simple: Do what everyone else does, without questioning. Accept the current fads; follow the trends; repeat the slogans. Pursue personal happiness; acquire wealth; indulge your desires. Live for now, for self. The second path, much harder to discern, also demands more. You’ll have to search diligently for it, and watch your step as you go. Pilgrims on this way listen to God’s Word, not to the world. They refuse to be conformed to this age. Seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, they deny themselves, seeking a future reward. Those who enter the narrow gate commit themselves to humility; they are poor in spirit, mourning for their sins. Aware of their own shortcomings, they treat others with meekness and mercy. Because they hold to a strict standard – nothing less than the imitation of God – they are slow to pronounce judgment on people who rub them the wrong way. Instead, they pray for God to pity and transform both them and their neighbors. Most of all, they trust not in their own goodness but in the grace of God, which they find daily in Jesus, the only Son of God. This alternative route winds through many valleys, climbs steep mountains, and traverses difficult terrain. Dark forests and dusty deserts, filled with wild animals, will make you wonder whether you have gone astray. After an arduous journey, however, you will reach your destination: Eternal life with God and with His Son, Jesus, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The more popular path leads its many followers through popularity, pleasure, prestige, power, and possessions – for a while. Then suddenly the crowd turns a corner and falls off a cliff, plunging to an endless death. Which way will you go?