There is a silent argument in the church about wide or narrow. OK, not so silent, but not in your face, part of media headlines kind of loud either. There seems to be two camps of Christians.
The wide group says that God welcomes all. Jesus’ arms are open wide. He’s a loving God. He wants all of his children to enter the gates of Heaven. This group typically spends time focusing on examples of Jesus hanging with ‘sinners’. They say come just as you are and they mean it.
The narrow group says there is only one way to Heaven and that is by accepting Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. He’s the one and only Son of God. He died for your sins and the ONLY way to get to Heaven is to accept His gift. When you do, you should not “live in sin”. This group would admit that everyone does sin, but it’s the “living in sin” that matters. They point to sexual purity (sex ONLY allowed in a monogamous marriage between one man and one woman). They point to the teachings of Christ and His apostles about how to live and how to love. They are adamant that there is only ONE narrow path to Heaven.
The truth is… BOTH of these groups are right, but both can also miss the point.
The problem with a purely ‘wide road’ point of view is that it give no reason to attempt to better your life for Christ. I mean, it’s true, He died for ALL. His sacrifice on that cross was a ONE TIME sacrifice for ALL sins past, present and future. This overwhelming amount of grace is free. But it does NOT mean we should simply go on living our lives in the way we did before we accepted Him. We became a NEW CREATION when we accepted Him and we need to show that in how we live. Read Colossians 3.
The problem with the purely ‘narrow road’ point of view is that it shuts the door on so many people that need baby steps to get there. Jesus’ arms are open wide. His Love is for anyone who accepts it.
“And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, “Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?” And Jesus answered them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.” (Luke 5:30-32)
The truth is that Christianity is more like a funnel. The mouth of the funnel is open wide to accept people just as they are. But at the same time, Jesus is very clear that there is only one way to heaven. “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)
John 3 sums it up well. He begins with the narrow fact that you must be born again. But he ends with the wide fact that God so loved the world.
Keep your arms open wide. Accept people as they are. Love them with all their flaws. But at the same time, stay strong to the simple message of salvation and truth.
Don’t lower your standards from those set by Christ, but offer grace to everyone (including yourself) that does not live up to those standards this side of Heaven.