by Evg. P T Thomas
Writer and Bible Teacher
The imagery of journey in used both in spiritual and secular circles to describe the course of human life. In the pure secular sense, the journey of life reaches nowhere; rather it ends up in the grave. A way that leads to nowhere is secular and meaningless. But in the spiritual sense life’s journey takes one to the world beyond. To a spiritualist, the grave is where the traveler lays down the luggage and enters eternity. Death is where the strings of world by attachments are snapped and the spirit is set free even from the burden of the body. Thus we see that the imagery becomes truly meaningful as the spiritualists use it. Jesus Christ used it in the spiritual sense.
The Two Ways
According to the scriptures, there are only two ways of life before man to choose from. They are the wide way of the world and the narrow way of the Lord. Everyone has to choose one of these. By nature man is worldly and sinful. So where one is mature enough to evaluate one’s own way of life, he finds himself already treading the wide way. Even without he deliberately choosing it he finds himself there. So the choice before him is whether to continue in it or to shift to the narrow way. Since man is inherently hesitant to change his accustomed course of life, the choice becomes all the more difficult.
The Wide Way
A wide way ensures free flow of traffic. It attracts travelers. On a wide way, one can choose his preferred lane and speed. It spells freedom. There one can be on his own. This is the way of life.
Not only does a wide way provide freedom, but it gives pleasure too. A ride on a wide thoroughfare is a joy ride and enjoyment. It is a thrill, an excitement, rather a temptation to every traveler.
This signifies the normal course of worldly life. Today, the basic needs of food, clothing and shelter are amply provided for to the majority. Now man is hunting for pleasures. Needs no longer motivate man; he is driven on by desires. He wants to be on his own. Even moral standards are getting re-defined. They are made lax, renitent and loose. Pervasive behavior is freely permitted and even appreciated. Every one wants to be a law unto himself. Licentiousness is masquerading as freedom. The two can scarcely be distinguished by the modern man. The wide way of life keeps widening day by day. New lanes of self-indulgence are opened on this thoroughfare almost every day.
The Popular Way
The wide way of the world is the popular way too. It is the natural way for everyone. Instinctively one find himself walking this way. No wonder it is haunted by large multitudes. This makes it more and more wide and more and more popular. So anyone who dares to leave it has to swim against the current. He chooses the unpopular, uncommon and hard path of life. Leaving the popular way may even antagonize the society at large. Thinking differently, acting differently and living differently makes one an alien to the community, he lives in. So it requires strong conviction, total commitment and divine courage to leave the popular path. It is this popular nature of the wide way that makes it all the more appealing and attractive and that makes it hard for anyone to leave it.
Deception is the modus operandi of the evil one. Naturally, the prince of this world has made the way of the world wide and free so that its width can be a bait to catch anyone who comes along. Moreover, the final destination of this way is not made known till the end. When it would be known, it would be too late to retrace. It is very surprising that nobody cares to know the destination of the wide way they travel in this world. The pleasure and the comfort en route is so engaging and enticing that no one is bothered about the destination. Just the joy of the travel is all people care for. Moreover man is unwilling to forgo the present facilities and comforts readily available, for the blessings promised in the unseen future. The living present is too important for him to ignore it and wait for the coming future.
No one can say that he wanted to know the destination, but there was no way to know it. Everyone has an uniform conscience which keeps evaluating and judging every, word, deed and even thought. Conscience keeps warning everyone of the divine judgement to come. Moreover Jesus has specifically warned us about it. In His famous sermon on the mount, He has clearly taught us about the two ways and the catastrophic destination of the wide way. One cannot make a research and find out for himself, where the wide way leads one to. When one finds it out for himself, he has finished his journey. No chance of retracing; no coming back. So his finding does not benefit him or anyone behind him on the way. The only way for anyone know the destination is to believe the word of all knowing God. The promptings of his conscience corroborate the teachings of Jesus Christ. So anyone with a clear conscience and sincere heart can believe the word of God and escape from the way of destination.
The Narrow Way
In sharp contrast to the wide way of the world, the way of the Lord is narrow. The way of the Lord is the Lord Himself. Jesus has stated that He is the Way. Walking the way of the Lord is living as the Lord lived. “Christ suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow in His footsteps” (1Pet. 2:21). The sufferings Jesus willingly underwent were out of His love and concern for us. They were the punishments we had wrought upon over selves by our sins– ‘… for the transgression of my people he was stricken’ (Isa. 53:8). We ought to follow the Lord on the way of the cross in humbly acknowledging that we by our sins have caused Jesus to suffer and die. The sufferings Jesus underwent were not limited to the day of crucification only. All through His earthly life, Jesus was subjected to sufferings. The scriptures describe Him as the ‘man of sorrows’ (Isa. 53:3). He walked the hard way of life for our atonement and redemption. Now we are called to walk it with Him and appropriate the redemption prepared for us.
Fulfilled, not Abolished
Jesus said that He came to fulfill the law, not to abolish it. (Matt. 5:17) God’s law will not go cancelled. It follows the decree of damnation, the law has passed for sinfulness and will not be cancelled. The way of salvation Jesus has opened for us is so perfect that it fully satisfies the unchanging law of God and at the same time saves the condemned. It was imputed on the perfect One and the demand of the law was fulfilled in Him. Now anyone who believes in Jesus and willingly submits himself to partake in the sufferings and proprietary death of the Lord will be saved. As a believer partakes in the sufferings of the Lord, he is accepted as one who has been punished as per the law. He is no longer the old sinner, but a new creation in Christ (2Cor. 5:17). Here it becomes clear that setting out on the narrow way free of errors in not an additional virtue, but the basic requirement for one’s redemption. Partaking in the death of the Lord, is not limited to the sacrament of baptism. It is a life-long commitment; a way of life.
Jesus is the Way
Christianity is not a code of doctrines; Christianity is Christ. Salvation, according to Christianity is not attained by religiously keeping a set of rules and precepts. It is described as ‘the Way’ and the Way is a Person (Acts 19: 23; John 14:6). One joins Him on the narrow way of life. Jesus does not teach us the way and leave us to walk it all by ourselves. He has promised His unfailing presence till the very end. (Matt. 28:20) He is our guide and companion. We can face the horrors and hardships of the way because we walk hidden in Him. It is like a little child walking, holding to the strong hands of his father. When crevices and cliffs confronts him, the father lifts him up in His arms and leads him on. When blizzards and tempests blow, he can cuddle in the warm bosom of his father. The Name is our experience on the narrow way of Christian life. We walk with Christ, talk with Christ as He takes us by the hand and leads us on.
The Unpopular Way
Just contrary to the popular wide way of the world, the narrow way of Christian life is unpopular. Very few prefer to walk this way. It is alien to the innate human nature. The wide way is quite natural to man, but the narrow way has to be deliberately chosen. It is quite unlikely that one chooses the hard way of life. Only he who believes the Lord and gets a vision of the ultimate destination of the journey of life can choose this way. It is turning away from the world and turning to God.
The Way of Eternal Life
The unpopular, narrow way of Christian life is the only way to eternal life. It is the way Jesus walked. It is the narrow way of self-denunciation. Jesus’ life was characterized by saying ‘no’ to the self and ‘yes’ to the will of the Father. Jesus said: “By Myself, I can do nothing… for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me.” (John 4:34) Even in the intense agony in Gethsemane Jesus said: ‘… yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39) This is the narrow way: saying ‘yes’ to the Lord and ‘no’ to the self; honoring the will of the Lord more than one’s own life. This way leads to life. While the wide way of the world is the way of self-indulgence, the narrow way of the Lord is the way of self-denial. ‘The man who loves his life will lose it, while the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life”. (John 12:25)
MGM Ministries-Article Source: web.archive.org/web/20110923012302/http://trumpetmagazine.com/read.aspx?lang=1&id=4&mid=100/ – (Published on September 23, 2011, taken in July 2019)