“Go in Through the Narrow Gate”
DO YOU love truth and righteousness? Then you want to go in through the narrow gate of right principle. But beware! You will meet with an enticing crossroad, a road with the wide gateway of selfish expediency. Traveling in through this gate are the masses, the proponents of the idea that “the end justifies the means.”
The Jews in Jesus’ day followed their shepherds in their course of expediency. Speaking of Christ, the Jewish chief priests said: “If we let him alone this way, they will all put faith in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” The Jewish religionists wanted to keep Jerusalem with its rich temple revenues in their control. So the high priest said to them: “It is in your interest for one man to die in behalf of the people and not for the whole nation to be destroyed.” It seemed expedient to them that Jesus should die.—John 11:48, 50, NW.
The early followers of Christ took the way of right principle. It meant going in through a “narrow gate” to “the road leading off into life.” But they did not try to widen the gate by compromise. The broad gate of selfish advantage they rejected, saying: “We must obey God as ruler rather than men.”—Matt. 7:14; Acts 5:29, NW.
But after the death of the apostles and especially from the fourth century, it happened as Christ’s apostle foretold: “From among you yourselves men will rise and speak twisted things to draw away the disciples after themselves.” (Acts 20:30, NW) These selfish men wanted followers. How did they get them? Historian Sir James Frazer answers in his work The Golden Bough: “By relaxing the too rigid principles of its Founder, by widening a little the narrow gate which leads to salvation.” As time went on the gateway was widened more and more. A false Christianity appeared.
Drawing a parallel between Christendom’s Christianity and heathendom’s Buddhism, historian Frazer tells us more: “If such faiths were to be nominally accepted by whole nations and even by the world, it was essential that they should first be modified or transformed so as to accord in some measure with the prejudices, the passions, the superstitions of the vulgar. . . . Thus, as time went on, the two religions, in exact proportion to their growing popularity, absorbed more and more of those baser elements which they had been instituted for the very purpose of suppressing.”
There has been one compromise after another. In the area of human relations the narrow gate of divine principle concerning human marriage and morality has been widened. The result? Christendom’s broad way is littered with the wreckage of innumerable marriages and is filled with the shameful headlines of a soaring crime rate and unspeakable immoralities. Writes a clergyman in The Interpreter’s Bible: “We have acquiesced in conventions, practices, and aims which are at entire variance with the ideals and spirit of the religion we profess.”
It could hardly be otherwise when religious leaders abandon divine principles such as separateness from the world. Bible principle is: “Do not be loving either the world or the things in the world.” “The friendship with the world is enmity with God.” (1 John 2:15; Jas. 4:4, NW) For selfish advantage, to gain favor in the eyes of men, the religious leaders have sacrificed right principle.
“Go in through the narrow gate,” declared Christ, “because broad and spacious is the road leading off into destruction, and many are the ones going in through it; whereas narrow is the gate and cramped the road leading off into life, and few are the ones finding it.”—Matt. 7:13, 14, NW.
Christendom’s compromising clergy, to get whole states and nations to follow them, have leveled the siege guns of expediency at the narrow gate. By blasting down the narrow gate of divine principle with salvo after salvo of compromise the clergy have led people en masse through a gate that is as wide as it possibly can be.
“Go in through the narrow gate,” Jesus advised. Have you?