In life, we are confronted with a choice for every decision to be made. We cannot evade making a choice because we can never stand still. We must always take one road, or the other. Even when we think we are not making a choice, we have made a choice. In Matthew chapter 7 verses 13-14, Jesus sets before us a decision about making our eternal choice.
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
What is immediately striking about these verses is the absolute nature of the choice before us. We would all prefer to be given many more choices than two. But Jesus cuts across many multiple choices of our culture. In this text, Jesus’ listeners were hungry to know how they could gain eternal life. They sensed that this Man, who taught with authority, had to know the way to God. However, His message was a jolting one, yet many followed and listened eagerly.
When reading this passage, we may have an image of a person standing at a crossroad facing two gates and two roads. However, we are facing just one gate and road, not two gates and two roads. We cannot see the narrow gate and road; they must be searched for and found. Since journeying entails purposeful action, it is no wonder that Jesus pictures the direction and orientation of one’s life as a road or a path. Picturing life as progress along a path captures a sense of the dynamic nature of human existence, which never stands still and in which individual choices are not self-contained but contribute to an overall pattern.
In verse 13, Jesus gives a command which leads us all to a decision we must make. Jesus had shared the rigors of following Him. He had shared the type of lifestyle He requires. Then, He gives us the character of the gates and the roads and the consequences of the decision one must make.
The first gate and road are wide and broad. The word "wide" means it is easy to get in. There are no difficult restrictions. The wide gate is inviting, offering plenty of room for those who would follow the cultural norms. The wide gate is wide enough to be all inclusive: all philosophies and beliefs no matter how extreme, all appetites and passions, all liberties and licenses, all sin and selfishness. The gate is swung wide open so that all can enter. The "broad" road carries with it the idea of spaciousness, suggesting magnificence in appearance as well as in size and width. Jesus seems to allude here to the public roads in Rome, which were open to anyone. The "broad" road makes it easy to travel on. The consequence of this road is that it ends in eternal punishment.
The second gate and road are small and narrow. The word “small" means pent up, difficult to be entered. Jesus commanded his followers to enter God’s Kingdom only through the small gate. The road is "narrow." Jesus here is speaking of the private roads in the Roman Empire, which were travelled by invitation only. The word “narrow" means afflicted and troubled. The narrow road is much more restrictive, because it is limited to Jesus and His manner of discipleship. Here, narrowness has a double reference: it implies the comparative difficulty with which one lives a godly life of discipline and submission to God, and it denotes the relatively small number to whom such a life appeals compared to the easy life of self-indulgence. However, this road leads to the highest quality of life. Life in the absolute sense, life as God has it, that which the Father has in Himself, and which He gave to the Incarnate Son to have in Himself. This road is the right way, but it is not the popular way. Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. Will you choose the wide road or the right road?
By FRAN FARRER
CHARLOTTE, NC – Such a small percentage of our local, state, or national population is blessed to live a century (100 years); and to surpass that is truly a blessing from God, and 99 percent of those that reach that milestone will always give Him the praise. As does Henry Blainey Heath!
In many conversations and settings at his church, Simpson-Gillespie United Methodist, Henry Blainey Heath has said, “If you live right, trust in God, go to Sunday school, treat everyone right, and drink milk, you can live a long time.”
Having celebrated his 106th birthday, January 20, 2018, still living at home (with a support staff and his daughters), Henry Blainey Heath has been deemed a “Living Legend,” by his church, and in honor of Black History Month, was publically recognized and awarded, Sunday, February 4, 2018 before God and the congregation. In addition, the adult classroom where he studied weekly and was the class treasurer until his health failed; was named in his honor (picture provided).
A native of Chester County, South Carolina, Mr. Heath was born January 20, 1912, relocated to Charlotte in 1929, and joined Simpson Chapel in 1930. He enlisted in the United States Army and is a World War II Veteran. After his 1945 discharge, he married and became the father of two loving daughters. During that same year he enrolled in, now Johnson C. Smith University, while there he joined Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, and earned his bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, with a minor in English in 1948. His life’s dream was always to one day become a teacher.
Shortly after graduation he accepted a teaching position with the Lincoln County Board of Education and taught 6th & 7th grades. In addition, he taught at South Hill, VA, Southport, NC, and was principal at Rock Hill Elementary School in Lincoln County, North Carolina. Mr. Heath retired in 1966, but served as a substitute teacher in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System until 1997 at age 85.
One of his God-given gifts was that of a poet, and his poem, “Strive to be neat,” is included in the International Poetry Hall of Fame. Blessings continued to flow as he was awarded the “Editor’s Choice Award” by the National Library of Poetry for his poem, “Hugo, the Hurricane,” which was published in the Outstanding Poets of 1998.
Bellefonte Presbyterian Church
Bellefonte Community Prayer Breakfast
HARRISBURG, NC - The Women and Men Ministries of Bellefonte Presbyterian Church cordially invite you and your church family to join us for our Community Prayer Breakfast, Saturday, February 24, 2018, 9am to 12 noon. Registration will begin at 8am.
The church is located at 8866 Rocky River Road, Harrisburg, NC 28075.
Please RSVP on line at: bellefontechurch.org no later than Monday, February 18, 2018.