From “Growing in the character of a disciple”: Chapter 1 – What it means to be a disciple and how Christian character is formed
Another analogy which the Bible uses to describe the life of a real disciple is to speak of it as going through a narrow gate. That represents being saved. It then refers to continuing along a hard, narrow way. This represents the hardships faced by a disciple, rather than diverting onto any easy, broad path. The life of a real disciple is often difficult. Tough choices have to be made to deny oneself and to do one’s duty, even when one really doesn’t want to.
By contrast, the broad path, on which all unbelievers and false, compromised churchgoers travel, is very easy. On the broad path people can do whatever they want and always take the easy option. But a disciple has to choose to do what Jesus wants, which is much harder:
13 “Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is easy, that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard, that leads to life, and those who find it are few.Matthew 7:13-14 (RSV)
The narrow gate represents entering into the Christian life to begin with. It means believing the true gospel, as set out in the Bible, rather than the lukewarm, compromised, counterfeit gospel which so many churches present to us. Their man-made gospel is deliberately designed to be easy. It basically amounts to: “Jesus loves you and wants you to love Him”. There is little or no emphasis on sin, or God’s judgment, or our need to repent and get right with God.
Neither do they focus on the cost and hardship involved in a life of real discipleship. Such a realistic and accurate biblical message is not popular. Therefore a worldly church leader will not preach it. He fears being criticised for the things he says. He also fears offending people and therefore losing members. In particular, he fears losing their financial support.
So, vast numbers of people enter churches (at least in the West) with a very inadequate and inaccurate idea of what the gospel is. Many of them are not saved at all. They have not been shown the narrow gate and they have not entered by it. That therefore puts them on the wrong path from the start. But, even if they do begin well, merely to enter by the narrow gate is not enough.
If we want to develop into a strong disciple we must then stay on the hard way and not give in to the temptation to leave it in favour of the easier and broader path which leads to destruction. It is your responsibility to find out whether you are on the hard path and, if you are, then to stay on it and not veer off onto the easy way. The responsibility for all of that cannot be delegated to anybody else. However, God will, of course, help you to stay faithful, if you are willing to be helped.