But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:14
Living on the straight and narrow is an old phrase that indicates a moral, righteous life. I remember Sunday School lessons that tried to teach me I needed to ‘live up to’ the example of good people in the Bible to get into Heaven.
Looking back now I see those lessons (or my interpretation of them) as unfortunate. I lost a lot of years in communion with the church because I couldn’t live up to perfection. I’ve also heard this verse used to label others as undesirable and as an excuse to exclude them as unworthy.
If straight and narrow actions were what defined who got into Heaven, the Pharisees would never had been scolded by Jesus. If perfection was necessary for Christ’s love, he never would have eaten with tax collectors. If we have to rely on ourselves, no one would get to Heaven. We are broken and flawed.
When we view human actions as the gate, we all fail. Jesus said, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. (John 10:7) It is not our actions; it is the overwhelming, never-ending love of Christ that is our salvation. We can spend so much effort trying to work for God that we ignore God’s attempt to work throughus.
Feeling confident about being on the straight and narrow? It’s not enough. On our own we can never be righteous enough to deserve God’s mercy and grace. But Jesus calls us anyway, asking only ‘Do you love me?’