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Narrow and Wide Gates By Paul Swamidass

A Christian’s Formidable Task of Facing Narrow and Wide Gates

 Jesus wants us to enter through the narrow gate and warns us that the wide gate leads to destruction.

“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.

Matt 7: 13-14, NIV

The above is a stern warning from Jesus that should not be taken lightly; the consequences of ignoring it are deadly (“destruction”). This warning is valid today, just as it was in Jesus’ time. Today, people choose to enter various wide gates that lead to destruction.

What is the narrow gate? Jesus defined the narrow gate by saying,

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”

John 10: 9

Understand What The Wide Gates Are

It is imperative and wise to understand what the wide gate(s) happens to be in our time, lest we, as individuals, families, or churches, make the fatal error that Jesus warns us about.

Today, it is hard to find the narrow gate because of the distractions caused by several wide gates clamoring for our attention; consequently, many among us have lost sight of the narrow gate. The wide gates are easy to enter, and crowds are rushing into them today; if we are not careful, the swarming crowds around us may cause us to be swept into the wide gates.

What are some common examples of wide gates that are easy to enter but we must avoid at any cost? Wide gates are deceptive, welcoming, and easy to join. Here are some of the popular wide gates today:

  1. “No-God” gate denies God.
  2. The “No-Bible” gate rejects the Bible’s contents.
  3. The “No-church” gate ignores the church, its teachings, and worship.
  4. There is “no right/wrong” gate, or there is “no good/evil” gate; both are expressions of the “do what makes you feel good” gate.
  5. Sexual “freedom” gate.
  6. Parents’ decisions open the “fatherlessness” gate for their children.
  7. “Defy law-and-order” gate.
  8. “Demand abortion” gate.

These wide gates are so common now we tend to accept them without a second thought.

Emerging Modern Wide Gates

Look deeper into a few of the wide gates in the list above.

Items 1, 2, and 3 in the list above (No God, No Bible, and No Church) capture what is revealed in surveys after surveys in America: Compared to five decades ago, fewer Americans believe in God, fewer Americans trust the Bible, and fewer and fewer go to church.

Parents’ Choice Contributes to Fatherlessness

Since the 1950s, fatherless homes have grown steadily in America, and according to Fathers.com, America is now home to 33% of American children under 18 who are fatherless. Young children do not choose to have a fatherless home; a fatherless home is predominantly the result of one or both parents’ choices before or after a child is born. Some activists are now making a noisy case that Bible-based two-parent homes are not necessary.

Defying Law and Order in the Name of Equity and Social Justice

This is a recent phenomenon in America in the name of equity and social justice. We have seen the rise of stealing with impunity in daylight from stores such as Target, Home Depot, Walgreens, Whole Foods, Nordstrom, and similar stores in cities such as San Francisco, Oakland, New York, Seattle, Portland, and others.

Jesus’ Warning and Parental Responsibility

Jesus’ warning that we enter the narrow gate and avoid the easy-to-enter wide gates must be passed on to our children by example and mentoring. Today, several forces work on the minds and imagination of our young children, attracting them to the wide gates that Jesus warned us about. Our children are exposed to attractive and deceptive wide gates through TV, social media, friends, and even politically slanted public school curricula and teachers.

When they are young, children need parents—both father and mother—to guide and mentor them away from wide gates and guide them towards the narrow gate by example and mentoring; the fatherless have one less parent to guide and mentor the child. Today, this task is too much for one parent alone. With about 25 million fatherless children in America, more children are vulnerable to the enticement of deceptive wide gates today than before.

Wide Gates Offer a Growing Mission Field

Jesus said only a few will find the narrow gate (Matt 7:14; see above). Today, every wide gate listed above is a potential mission field for missional churches and their worshippers. Guiding people to choose the narrow gate while avoiding the wide gate(s) is an important missional opportunity for churches, Christian leaders, Bible teachers, and parents today.

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Paul Swamidass, PhD, is a Professor Emeritus retired in 2016 from Harbert College of Business, Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama. His newest book is Greater Things: The Qualifications of a Biblical Leader, Vide Press, 2020.


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