Road Less Traveled
Robert Frost enjoyed strolls with fellow poet Edward Thomas. He reflected on a walk in a wood with two different but equal paths. “I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” It’s a thoughtful verse about travelers and choices, probably intended as a light-hearted poke at Thomas.
Jesus also walked with friends and had a sense of humor. But His two roads are quite serious and not equal. “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” (Mat. 7:13-14). One road is attractive. The other is less traveled, more difficult, but rewarding. To be plain, Jesus is the gate and living by faith is the way. Before you believe Him, “Consider the cost,” He said (Luke 14:28).
People have counted the cost of the narrow way. History says Moses confronted Pharaoh, David fought Goliath, and Daniel faced lions. Hall of Faith truth-holders took the narrow road and the world was not worthy of them (Heb. 11). The church in China withstood the communist onslaught of Mao and will survive Xi’s new crackdowns. The church in Syria, Iraq, and Iran has endured bloody cleansing by radicals.
The church in the West faces a more subtle threat, to take the less costly broad way and align with popular culture. Or we can truthfully answer vital questions. Is Jesus is the only way? Is all human life valued? Did God create us in His image? Does God determine our identity, and define morality and holiness? We can be either an echo chamber for, or sanctuary from today’s noise.
In Impossible People, Os Guinness lists three cultural trends worth challenging: Judeo-Christian beliefs and values are repudiated as a barrier to, rather than the key to human flourishing. Freedom is libertine behavior that should be blessed and flaunted, rather than a gift that allows us to resemble our Creator. Alternative philosophies seek to redefine ideals such as dignity, justice, unity, and equality, cutting off their Christian root. These are the clanking machines grading the broad road that would lead travelers to a self-destructive place.
Even if our culture and religious institutions join hands and walk the broad road, you can make “all the difference.” Guinness writes, “Our privilege is to host the absolute presence of God and to live the way of Jesus so that our difficult and lonely task as his followers is to be faithful, and so to be different.” Take the narrow way, the road less traveled.