Think Twice Before Widening the Highway

In the summer of 1999, I did some traveling in Canada as part of my assigned duties in the Air Force. On one such trip, I flew into the Toronto Pearson International Airport and then rented a car to drive to North Bay. On the drive back from North Bay to Toronto, as I got closer to Toronto,  I noticed I was driving on a congested 12 lane (6 lanes each direction) highway. As a matter of perspective, I guess that should not be too surprising since the population of Toronto metropolitan area is around 5.5 million people. As I further into the city and closer to the airport, I noticed I was 6 lanes from the lane I needed to be in for the airport exit.  In other words, I was on the very outside lane and I needed to get over to the inside lane to I could get in the exit lane toward the airport.  Just so you have a feel for what happened next, I had a veteran fighter pilot riding in the passenger seat and it scared him as I proceeded to make my way across 6 lanes of traffic just in time to make the exit. WOW. That was an experience I’ll never forget.
 
These super highways are a huge contrast to the roads I drove on growing up in rural Ohio. In fact, many of the roads, even though they were two lanes (one lane in each direction), were a challenge when it came to passing oncoming traffic on the driver side of the car and staying out of the ditch on the passenger side at the same time.  These roads were, and remain the same today, so narrow that I drove straddling the center line until I saw a car coming toward me. Most of the roads didn’t have a shoulder and the edge of the roads were often unmarked. You might imagine, when a heavy snow with wind whipped up these roads became impassable in minutes. As a result, there have been calls for widening these roads, especially after a bad accident, but the tax base and traffic patterns don’t justify the necessary budget for such a project.
 
In the case of the city of Toronto, a growing internationally flavored city, with large tax base and swelling traffic, widening the highways  was a matter of avoiding grid lock and supporting a growing commerce.  However, in the small town and rural county where I grew up in Ohio, widening the highways (or roads to be more accurate) just doesn’t make sense. I think we’d all agree that there is a place for super highways and a place for narrow roads.
 
I see a similar dichotomy in the Christian church across America today. You might even say we are at a critical crossroad. Jesus is recorded by Matthew saying  MT 7:14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. What does this mean?  In the course of human history, compared to the large population of the overall world, very few will believe in Jesus as their Savior and Lord and receive the promise of eternal life. It also means that Jesus is the only way to eternal life as He states, JN 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”  However, some a calling for the church to take an all-embracing understanding of religion and practice.  In so many words, they are calling for widening the religious highway, or road if you will. Instead of a narrow road, they are calling for a super highway. Instead of Jesus being the one and only Savior and Lord, they call for an acceptance of all religious views as having equal validity. Instead of Jesus being the gate, they want to remove it.
 
A super highway for Toronto and a narrow road for rural counties are both adequate and practical based on need and function. After all, highways and roads are built by humans to serve human needs. However, our life and destiny are based on a gate height and a road width that we didn’t design or build. That was all done in the hands of a sovereign God. And, for that matter, we don’t have the power to change the dimensions. In fact, the dimension of the gate to enter the narrow road that leads to life is “Jesus high” and the width of the narrow road is “Jesus wide.”
 
How did we arrive at this crossroad?  It starts with a saturation of humanistic teaching coupled with a movement to discredit the efficacy of the Bible. And by the way, the forces trying to discredit the Bible are not just liberal academicians but so-called Christian theologians. As a result, many are already adding lanes to their new religious super highways for other gods and religions, a rewrite or adaptation of the Holy Bible, an inclusive view of sexual morality, a redefinition of marriage, a view of family that diminishes the role of the father and a commuter-lane that devalues the life of the unborn and the aging.
 
My friends, let me leave you with a word of encouragement. Just keep following Jesus. He won’t let you down. I know the narrow road is hard but it leads to eternal life. I realize the narrow road doesn’t have any room to straddle because the traffic is all going in one direction, that is, toward Jesus. Don’t give in or give up dear saint. Think twice before widening the highway because it is just a temporary illusion. HE 12:1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. 
 
A Work in Progress,
 
Pastor Gene

Gene StocktonComment