The Lord Jesus Christ did speak of another truth that is a present-day reality; in Matthew 7:14, He mentions an alternative choice, which a sizeable number are wholeheartedly devoted to. “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”
The few boils down to a numerical comparison; while multitudes shun this arduous option, there are takers that are modest in terms of head count. One thing is for sure, the few who preferred this path knew what was at the end of the painstaking journey. They counted the costs and were cognizant of what was really at hand if the other option was their choice. But the game-changer that spurred them on in this direction was their faith. There was hardly any room for nagging doubts. Nevertheless, it was definitely not a blind belief because they were aware of the reward, which greatly outweighed the testing.
“Who through faith subdued kingdoms, worked righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouth of lions, quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became valiant in battle, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
“Women received their dead raised to life again. Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance, that they might obtain a better resurrection. Still others had trial of mocking and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented – of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth” (Hebrews 11:33-38).
Reading through these passages gives one a picture of what it is truly like to be choosing the narrow gate. So many would shun the possibility of crossing paths with seemingly endless hardships if they just viewed it through a simplistic and earthly lens. It is indeed a very tough call for many to stomach where the eternal perspective matters. It would be dead easy to label the heavenly focus to be of no earthly use when reading about these accounts that are not far from palatable – one might live to a hundred with lots in store! Eternity might be way out of the equation when considering the length of time laden with opportunities. On this note, do not be surprised at the smallness in numbers.
Despite the smallness, those numbers in this category do so because of the unquenchable fire of their faith. In the first place, it is not that easy to find men and women of faith in large numbers. The Lord Jesus pointed this out in Luke 18:8. “I tell you that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he really find faith on the earth?”
Yet there is talk, if not chatter, about this group of individuals who prefer a hard, long walk to eternal glory. It has been going on for the past two thousand years. It never really died out but, on the contrary, made more than a scratch on the landscape of humanity. The belief in the imminency of the Rapture of the Church did play a prominent part in the faith of these people; they could be taken out of the world at the twinkling of an eye – so much so for remaining steadfast regardless of the time. One thing was for sure, at their last breath, they would be joyfully slipping into eternal happiness! On this note, they persevered for His Kingdom and Glory, regardless of the situation.
The narrow gate is, in many instances, no piece of cake – this is certainly true when God has to come first versus the world. People of faith who took this to heart paid with their lives, whether it was Polycarp during the Roman era or Bonhoeffer in the dying days of the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler. Years of incarceration laden with inhumane treatment did not deter men like Richard Wurmbrand; he lived to see the collapse of totalitarianism in his native Rumania in 1989!
What about some guys in nineteenth-century America who quite a number laughed at – all because they believed that Israel would one day be a nation. During that time, there was no such thing as a Jewish nation. Yet Cyrus Scofield and William Blackstone believed that it would come to pass. These men of faith went home to be with the Lord way before the state of Israel came into being on the 14th of May, 1948.
There are indeed many people who would be anonymous when they entered by the narrow gate—brushing aside the pleasures of the planet and the lusts of the flesh for the sake of righteousness. Even in our current-day context, what was stated in Holy Writ still holds a lot of water. These folks are labeled as strange besides being ridiculed for their points of view. Their lifestyles would draw intense flak from their harshest critics. In some instances, there would be some of these people who had to decouple from the mainstream and rough it out.
We who are the Bride of Christ are really no different from this small crowd. As a matter of interest, we are part of this small crowd! We are truly part of the Church of Smyrna and Philadelphia spoken of in the book of Revelation. The planet, which includes numerous so-called Christian groups, takes pleasure in calling us ugly ducklings. We are mocked for what we hold dear, even at the cost of lifelong friendships. Soaking up to this pressure can truly sap our strength, but because of the anointing of the Holy Spirit – we occupy until His return for us. It is not easy, as He said to us at the beginning, but it is truly worth it!
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