I rather think that the choice of “narrow” for a descriptive Good News Dictionary may have caught your attention. The idea of narrowness is held somewhat in dispute in our present culture where “everyone has his own true north.” Dictionaries define it as “having little breadth or width” and offers synonyms such as “restricted, definite, exclusive.” So how could narrowness be descriptive of the gospel? Lets take a look at several verses that deal with the subject.
In the famous Sermon on the Mount Jesus said (as recorded in Matt. 7:13-14) that while the gate to hell is wide and many choose that path, “the gate to life is narrow” (TEV) and “only a few ever find it” (NLT). If I understand it correctly, Jesus is telling the crowds that a lifestyle that leads away from God demands very little (it is “wide”) while the gate to real life is narrow and only a few go that way. Some will complain that that’s pretty narrow minded, and I guess it is, but I didn’t say it, Jesus did.
Another passage is Luke’s teaching on The Narrow Door in 13:22-30. One needs to read the entire section very thoughtfully to sense how serious Jesus was about how to get to heaven. Someone asked how many would be saved and Jesus replied, “Do your best to enter God’s Kingdom through the narrow door, because many will try but fail” (v. 24).
In today’s culture, narrowness is commonly viewed in a negative sense. It places limits on people’s freedom to do and think as they choose. But truth, by definition, is “narrow.” Two plus two will never equal five, no matter how many times you do the calculation. To distinguish your “true north” from mine gives each of us a certain pleasant tolerance but it won’t work in an expedition to the north pole. Once again, truth by definition is narrow. When it comes to matters of faith it is awkward in our day to say, “Gate A leads to heaven and gate B leads to hell.” Awkward? Granted, but true if scripture is one’s guide in matters of eternal importance.
So as we describe Jesus in our dictionary on the gospel let’s give him the freedom to be “narrow minded” where it is appropriate because, after all, he is the incarnate Son of God, the very source of all truth. What’s more, let’s stand with him in those issues that are not politically correct. John reminds us that Jesus said, “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first” (15:18). But don’t let it get you down. To know Jesus as personal friend and walk through life with him at your side on the way to heaven is an experience of incredible joy.