The (Wide) Road To Perdition
When I was a teenager, I remember attending a revival meeting where the preacher started riffing on Matthew 7:13-14, part of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, which reads:
"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."
The preacher's interpretation of this saying of Jesus was pretty much the same take I'd heard my whole life up that point:
The "few" who travel the narrow road will spend eternity in Heaven and everyone else who travels the wide road will end up... well, somewhere else.
As I recall, the preacher seemed to take a great deal of pleasure in this interpretation--almost gleefully relating the horrible fate that those on the wide road would face when they came to the end of their road.
For years, I would read that passage of Scripture and would find myself troubled by Jesus' words, but years later, I would re-read that passage more closely and discover something transformative.
Take another look at the passage now.
You can clearly see that Jesus doesn't mention the afterlife at all in these verses. And that's because Jesus almost never talked about the afterlife. It wasn't that he didn't acknowledge the idea of being one with God for eternity, it's just that Jesus wanted people to start living abundantly now as well as then.
Further, the people that Jesus is targeting here in this saying are actually the overly-religious, the seemingly morally upright rule-keepers of his day---the kinds of people who are quick to exclude, and who arrogantly assume they are right.
The kinds of people who are so "heavenly minded," they are no earthly good.
Jesus not-so-subtly tells the overly-religious people that they are the ones who find themselves on the wide road, because it's easier for them to focus on what "dreams may come," than it is to deal with being faithful to God in the midst of the wakeful realities of today.
If we want to live in the abundance and joy that Jesus promised was ours both now and not yet... If we want to find fulfillment and begin truly living on this side of eternity, then we can't be afraid to be engaged in this life, in this world.
Throw yourself into the joyful task of demonstrating the kingdom of God come to life now even as we look forward to the not yet of God's perfect, all-encompassing peace.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.