As a power wheelchair user, I prefer the wide sidewalks of downtown Boston to the comparatively narrower ones in the suburban town where I live. I’ve been known to crank up my chair’s speed on Boyleston Street and leave John in the dust!
Here at home, I keep my wheelchair at a fairly conservative speed. It means a longer time between the bus stop and our apartment building, which gets annoying when the bus is late and we need to get through supper before my Personal Care Attendant arrives. But with my uncontrolled movements due to Cerebral Palsy, I feel safer on narrow sidewalks with a slower speed.
I like the wide sidewalks of Boston.
Most people tend to equate narrowness with negative things, don’t you think? We want wide sidewalks, wide margins and wide religion. And accordingly, we imagine Jesus as an inclusive God Who accepts all people (except those we really dislike, of course) regardless of whether or not they believe in Him or love His Word. Jesus, we insist, is broad minded. Surely He would detest any spiritual narrowness and exclusivity in favor of welcoming everybody into heaven!
The real Jesus, however, has a habit of going against our expectations and making proclamations that, to be honest, seem very intolerant. Let me quote just two of His frustratingly narrow remarks:
13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. ~~Matthew 7:13-14 (ESV)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. ~~John 14:6 (ESV)
These words offend most non-Christians. As a matter of fact, many people who consider themselves to be Christians distance themselves from these words, sometimes even asserting that He never actually said them. But Jesus, because He is Lord, reserves the right to be as narrow as He sees fit, not depending on our approval in making His decrees.
His narrowness confines us in several respects. Most obviously, it demands holy conduct that reflects the new nature He gives His elect at regeneration. The apparent freedom to indulge sinful passions no longer reigns, and we resent His authority to tell us what we should and shouldn’t do.
Even deeper than resenting His authority over our behavior, we resent His rejection of other religions and belief systems. His narrowness demands that we worship only Him, giving no grace to those who practice other religions.
We forget that, as Lord, Jesus deserves to be our one and only object of worship. We forget that heaven, rather than being a place where all our desires find satisfaction (although that’s certainly the case), revolves around praising and worshiping Him. As wide and expansive as eternity is, Jesus alone is its focus. And He’s more than enough for me!