“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
Critics of this portion of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” often complain that our Lord is not being “inclusive” enough. The “way” of the genuine Christian is, however, an exclusive and “narrow” one. Praise God, it is also the ONLY way to God (John 14:6), an offer that is completely inclusive and full of hope for all who will genuinely “repent and believe” (Mark 1:15).
For context, read Matthew 7:13-27. Here Jesus revealed two options: Follow Him wholeheartedly along the “narrow” 4-wheel drive road that ultimately leads to heaven, or travel down the wide, easy and popular 8-lane highway to destruction.
Those of us serving in our God-ordained profession of law enforcement (Romans 13:1-4) also embrace a narrow path. Our journey through the hiring process, the academy, field training and our first years on the road (let alone a full career), is a narrow, difficult path indeed (it’s not called the “thin blue line” for nothing).
It’s clear that salvation is by grace through faith and not of works. As I say so often, we can’t “badge” or earn our way into heaven. Good works (including our “good” service in law enforcement) are, however, the “fruit” of a God-changed heart:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them . (Ephesians 2:8-10)
The Narrow Way
The phrase “narrow is the gate” is fairly easy to understand. In saying “difficult is the way which leads to life,” Jesus was explaining how hard it is to be a genuine Christian. The word “difficult” as used here comes from the Greek word thlibo, which means: “to press” – as one might do in a heavy bench “press.” The word can also be used metaphorically to mean “trouble, afflict, distress.”
Those of us in law enforcement should understand the concept. We know that ours is, in fact, the “narrow” way (the thin blue life), especially for those of us who choose to live “all in” for Jesus.
The Broad Way
This is the path that most people seek. It’s the “comfortable” life where we “have our own way,” maintaining a private lifestyle that suits us, seeking the things of “the world” over the things of God, focusing on “happiness” (vs. joy), and doing what “feels right” (Proverbs 14:12).
By contrast, God’s “way” to heaven is “narrow.” It requires a radical, “born again,” life-saving and life-changing faith in Jesus Christ alone. Genuine salvation is found only in the person of Jesus; He alone is “the way, the truth and life” and “no one comes to the Father” (heaven) except through Him (John 14:6).
Jesus said that the narrow gate – like a cop’s life – leads to a narrow, “hard” road (one that will take us through hardships, difficulties, trials, and tribulations). Following Jesus requires crucifying our flesh; living by faith; picking up our cross; enduring trials with Christlike patience and living a lifestyle separate from that of “the world.”Jesus said that the narrow gate – like a cop's life – leads to a narrow, "hard" road (one that will take us through hardships, difficulties, trials, and tribulations).@thethinbluelife Click To Tweet
When faced with the choice between a narrow, bumpy 4-wheel drive road and a wide, paved highway, most will choose the highway. When faced with the reality of denying themselves to follow Jesus, most people tragically turn away (John 6:66).
The Christian life is filled with temporal challenges that lead to heavenly rewards. As born again believers, we have the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit to help us in every situation. The rewards are both unimaginably practical and eternally consequential.
The challenging, narrow path that eventually led you to a career in law enforcement was a difficult and exclusive journey. It required your total commitment, but it provided you with meaning, identity and reward. The narrow path to Jesus also requires our total commitment, but those who choose it find ultimate meaning, God-given identity and eternal reward.
Have you taken the step through the narrow gate?
If you need prayer or counsel, reach out – we’re here to serve.