We live in an open-minded age. This fact represents an opportunity for the spread of the gospel, as well as an obstacle to it. The opportunity arises because in their open-mindedness, people are willing to consider the spiritual claims of Jesus Christ. But the obstacle gets in the way because far too many people are so open-minded that are unwilling to commit themselves to Jesus in any way that might preclude a change of spiritual commitments at some later point. They are Christian today, Kabbalist tomorrow, and Scientologist the third day, so to speak.
What we need to help people realize is that life’s most important choices are exclusive of other choices, all choices have consequences, and the greater the choice the greater the consequence. Take marriage, for example. When I married Tiffany, I married her to the exclusion of all other women. And I took vows to be faithful to her—spiritually, emotionally, and physically—until we are parted by death. Obviously, that was a very important choice with very important consequences. Unlike any other relationship I have, my marriage to Tiffany is now the key to my long-term happiness and well-being.
Something similar is at work in our choice of spiritual commitments. Indeed, St. Paul uses marriage as an analogy of the relationship between Christ and the church (Ephesians 5.22–33). Christ loves the church as every husband should love his wife, and the church responds to Christ’s love as every wife should respond to her husband. The commitment is exclusive. One cannot be “married” to Christ and to Buddha and to Mohammed. The commitment has consequences: forgiveness of sins here on earth and eternal life with God hereafter. And those consequences—sin or forgiveness, heaven or hell—are momentous.
In Matthew 7.13–14, Jesus said: “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.” There are three points to consider from these verses: (1) the size of the gate, (2) the number of people who enter, and (3) the end of the path. I think that many who read this verse are offended by it. Why can’t the gate be broader? Why don’t more people enter by it? Why can’t the broad path lead to life?
To answer these questions, think back to the marriage analogy. When you choose to marry another person, you have made a “narrow gate” choice. In fact, to choose is to narrow your options down to exactly one. Why shouldn’t this be true of our spiritual commitments too? And why are we offended at the notion that our choices in this life affect our well-being in the life to come, for better or worse? Doesn’t that simply stand to reason? And regarding the “many” and the “few,” isn’t the choice of which category you belong in up to you?
Through Christ, God has given us a gate to salvation. But he has left to us the choice whether or not to walk through it. Choose wisely.