“Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. “For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. – Matthew 7:13
There was once a one panel comic in, I believe, a Reader’s Digest that I found quite funny, yet revealing. At the gate of heaven there was a log jam of souls all trying to enter while arguing about which of their religions was the true one. Off to the side of the panel there is a solitary soul, not at all interested in the argument, who separated himself from the fray. Along the wall of the Kingdom of God, away from the commotion, was a narrow passage and an open gate. Through which he entered in unimpeded.
Was this soul a follower of the true religion? That fact cannot be determined. But what one can determine is that he was different from all those caught in the scrum at the front gate. What obviously kept the crowd from entering was pride. What the solitary soul possessed was humility. He thought himself no better than the others at the main gate.
There is one thing that is true of those entering heaven of which all must agree. Any soul that does not reflect the image and likeness of God, the molder of humanity, will not enter through the narrow gate. And in that we all will then be of the one true religion. The particular religion through which God intended to relate to and love His creatures.
All who find themselves in heaven will all be one with and in God. Those not perfected as such, must be so before entering. The essence of God is like the purity of water. If sugar is dissolved in water, the appearance is the same yet the flavor is not. If a die is mixed in, the color stains its clarity. If oil is added, the texture produces a film to the touch. All these will not preserve the likeness of water. Yet, if water is added to water, who can then distinguish that which was added and that which was already present. Until we are a complete follower of Christ we are not a complete member of His church. And in that imperfection, are not yet fit to enter the promise that is heaven.
Our humble soul in the comic had found his way to heaven by way of the cross. For the cross evokes humility not pride. The cross lacks pleasure, power, wealth and honor. That which so many of this world seek to possess. But a problem arises when we no longer possess them but, rather, are possessed by them. One must empty oneself before being completely filled with God. We must make His will ours and immerse our hearts in His. We must be free of those four things that Christ did not take part, especially, when on the cross. And only then will one know true happiness. We come into the world with nothing and will take nothing from it when we leave. Except for the imprints on our souls of the virtues or vices that we have given ourselves to.
If the imprints upon our souls include remnants of past sins not fully amended, yet have not completely barred us from God’s grace, then, by His mercy, our hearts will be purged and made pure. Thereby satisfying the prerequisite for admission to Heaven.
In “The Last Crusade,” one of the sequels in the Indiana Jones adventure series, there is a scene appropriate to this discussion. Indiana is hanging from a ledge, trying to grasp the Holy Grail, the cup that Jesus used to consecrate wine into His sacred blood at the Last Supper. Indiana’s father has him by the hand. As he is losing his grip, Indiana’s father frantically implores him to give him his other hand or he is going to fall into the abyss. Indiana insists that he almost has the cup and ignores his father’s pleas. Just as he is about to slip away, at the last moment, his father says in a tone of calm authoritative love, which
penetrates the din; “Indiana…let it go.” Indiana turns his head and looks into his father’s eyes and obeys as any trusting son would to a father who has proven himself worthy of that trust. He let’s the cup go and gives his other hand to his father who then lifts him from certain death.
Those who strive to assume the image and likeness of Christ are designated by Him to be His brothers and sisters. And in that kinship we are also sons and daughters of God. God our father, too, beckons us to let go. And, as did the father of Indiana, stretches out His hand to each of us, offering His love, guidance and protection until the day He calls us Home.
The narrow gate to heaven is proportional to the size of our egos. When our egos diminish, the gate widens and with it our hope of entry. We gain the promise of Heaven when we lose ourselves completely to Christ.