The Journey & Destination
“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad and easy to travel is the path that leads the way to destruction and eternal loss, and there are many who enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow and difficult to travel is the path that leads the way to [everlasting] life, and there are few who find it.” (Matthew 7:13-14)
The more I know about Christianity and interact with others around me, the more I realise how true this verse is. When I was younger, I used to be disappointed when people walked away from Christianity or when people didn't believe in Christianity. Nowadays, I realise that a lot of the time the reason behind that was not their inability to believe but the difficulty of the path before them.
The journey as a Christian is not easy. Anyone who can say with a straight face that Christianity is not riddled with a path of difficulty either does not truly understand yet what it means to be a Christian or is lying. At the heart of Christianity is simplicity; Jesus died on the cross to bear the burden of our sins in the ultimate act of holiness and love and on the third day he rose from the grave as a sign of conquering death.
Yet there are many complexities behind Christianity as well. We are commanded many things that derive from that holiness and love. Most of the New Testament teachings are an elaboration on practicals to do with being holy and loving like Christ.
A lot of people try to make Christianity more accessible to the general populace and in doing so take out parts that might be harder to stomach. But the problem with this is that at the root of it all, Christianity isn't an easy thing to be okay with. The tenets of Christianity go against common logic. Anyone who says that the more you read the Bible, the less Christianity makes sense is absolutely correct. Should what is written inside be a mere concoction of human imagination, then the absurdities of Christianity flaunt themselves like a peacock's feathers, vibrant and conspicuous.
The point is though, trying to look for an easy way to accept Christianity is shortchanging yourself of what Jesus has pointed out: true Christianity isn't easy. It was never meant to be. God was trying to do the impossible by bridging between sinful man and sinless God. The very fact that impossible became possible is simply insane to think about.
Now I'm not going to get into a debate about whether God could have made it easier. I'm assuming that if He didn't need to sacrifice His one and only son on the cross, He would probably have found a better way. I don't assume I have the adequate knowledge and wisdom to rationalise the decisions of God.
What's important is the acceptance and understanding that the path forward for any Christian is not easy. You want an easy life? Christianity is hardly the easiest way forward. Life is unjust. Good people rarely end up on top. Christianity is less about being the best person you can be now and more about trying to get the best product out of your work-in-progress life before the literal **dead**line comes. There are easier ways to be a 'good' person.
At the end of the day, we are warned that the easy road is the one that leads to destruction. However, Jesus does not remark that the journey on that easy path is anything more than easy. It is comfortable while you're on the road. What's waiting at the end is what sucks. On the other hand, Christians exchange a path that is narrow and difficult for a future that is pleasant everlasting.
This is true and will continue to be true; but to really reap from that understanding you need a perspective of eternity. That’s just like how the kid in the backseat keeps asking their parents “are we there yet” because the kid doesn't understand the concept that the journey is but an infinitesimal portion of the trip, we can be the same way with this life.
If we treat the journey as the be-all-end-all, then we inevitably prioritise comfort on the journey. But if we treat the destination as the end goal, we will focus more on the destination. Most people would be willing to splurge more on the accommodations and the holiday destination and sit through a slightly worse travel experience on the plane or bus or car than splurge on the transport and have a worse overall holiday.
Yet our impatience as humans and our lack of an eternal perspective regularly condemns us to this nearsighted prospect of what to invest our limited resources in. To understand you are but a mist in the morning, here now and gone but moments later is necessary to comprehend Christianity. If you cannot fathom an afterlife, or you are a Christian for the mere sake of morality and being a good person, you have the wrong idea.
The people who do a project just to seem productive are unlikely to finish the project properly because they don't even understand what the end goal is. And that's why if you wish to continue to tread on this journey called ‘life as a Christian’, you best pack along with your luggage the understanding that this trip is just a slight nuisance before the ultimate destination.
Outside of understanding love and holiness and relationship with God and being a good person and leading a good life, realise that the reason for God's sacrifice wasn't meant simply for this life. That would nary be worth the cost. Rather, God bought eternity for us at the price of a rocky road and the life of His most cherished. If you can fathom the thought of life after death, you have begun to comprehend the fundamentals of Christianity. If you deny the afterlife and pursue perfection in this life you are no better than Sadducees who were rebuked by Christ.
Today, as a Christian, how is your focus?
Daniel is currently and forevermore will be a student and a learner, trying to delve into the deep conundrums of life and seeing where the path leads. He enjoys linking different things in life back to God through strange and seemingly random connections.