I regularly get chills from certain passages in the Bible. This is one of them:
“Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matthew 7: 13-14)
I often believe, with not a little worry, that while I ascent to Christ’s teaching and to the narrow gate metaphor I am, in truth, on the wide path to destruction. I also look around me and I am convinced the Church is filled mostly with people who are not on the narrow path, are not getting through the narrow gate and, in fact, have decided the narrow gate either does not apply to them, or that the wide gate is, in actuality, the narrow gate.
In fact, it seems there is a “the wide gate is the way to go” attitude in much of popular Christianity. It goes under the name of tolerance = love = “see how loving I am.” It is so easy for us to feel self-righteous and not see it.
In fact, I do not believe modern American Christianity embraces the narrow gate. I believe the Church in the west has largely rejected the narrow gate. I believe our affluence and our love of modernism has encouraged us to believe the narrow gate does not apply anymore. This is really serious.
We have adopted what I call the “funny inner feeling” form of Christianity. I am not the first person to use that phrase. It arises from a distinctively Protestant form of Christianity naturally and inevitably born out of the sola fide mindset, but embraced by Catholics too, especially in the post-Vatican II world. Just like our modern concept of love, we are given over to a emotional definition of faith. With this feeling in place we can do all kinds of things, such as
- be spiritual but not religious
- presume ourselves forgiven
- presume ourselves saved
- believe we are no longer called to be martyrs
- believe holiness is merely a “lifestyle” of no eternal consequence
- choose our own forms of worship
- conjure more feelings of faith for a spiritual high
- denigrate piety as old fashioned
- denigrate traditions as being only for “rigid” people
- denigrate “works”
- denigrate Christendom
- promote “bumper-sticker” forms of encouragement
- ignore the sacraments
…and the list goes on and on.
But Christ will separate Christian from Christian. Some will go into glory forever with Him. And others will go to eternal destruction and fire. Does that not scare you? It does me. Dante was right to place some popes, bishops, priests, and religious in Hell. Will you and I be in Hell too? Or will we choose the narrow gate?
Verses like the ones above challenge me. I hope they challenge you too. Let us pray for each other. God is good and trustworthy.