“Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answered them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I tell you, will attempt to enter but will not be strong enough (Lk 13:23-24).
This can be a challenging verse to understand and to put into practice. Our salvation is assured in Christ, for he died for all of us and not just for a select few. It is also true that there is no way we can buy or nothing we can do to earn our way into heaven. That said, with the free gift of the grace we have been given by Jesus in the giving of his life for us, we have a responsibility to work out our salvation in this life.
Christianity is not a pie in the sky or walk in the park religion because Christianity is about a relationship. God loves us and gives us the choice to reject or accept his love. If we say yes, then we collaborate in building a relationship with him as we go forward to do the same with one another.
Authentic relationships take an investment of time and hard work if those relationships are to move beyond the masks and pretenses we project out to people, pretending to be something we are not or trying to be who others want us to be. To mature in our relationships we need to learn to love each other, which means more than an emotional experience, but a willing of each other’s good. Love is accepting the other as other, in their brokenness and pain, their failings and shortcomings, their sin. It means being willing to take off our masks, being vulnerable, revealing our fears, and resist being defensive or reactive when we are hurt or offended by those who are close to us.
Love does not mean that we endure physical and emotional manipulation and abuse, for then we are enabling someone’s destructive behavior. The goal of healthy relationships is to mutually respect each other’s boundaries, be willing to support and empower one another and grow together. We accept each other as we are, while at the same time, we are willing to accompany one another as we seek to actualize our potential and who God calls us to be.
Every relationship, if it is to grow and develop, will at some point, come to a cross-road, a narrow gate, in which each person needs to make a decision. Will, each person work through the conflict that arises to the best of their ability mutually supporting one another, get help as needed if the challenge is beyond them, and strive to support the growing bond that is present. The other choice by one or both persons, is to not be willing to risk putting in the work to address the root of the conflict, not having the humility to say, I am sorry or I forgive you, or just not willing to face the deeper issues to heal or let go of any fear that may be in the way.
Being willing to go through the narrow gate, means being willing to invest in the love that God has given us freely and being willing to risk and be vulnerable with him if we are to grow and mature in our relationship. It means putting in the discipline of working out our salvation with his guidance, while at the same time, doing so in conjunction with the relationships he has blessed us with in our life.