A friend marveled at my faith once, noting how I’m only “new to the church,” yet still seemingly a lot more “faithful” than those who’ve been Christians their whole lives. In some ways, that’s true. My born-again experience has been a rapid one–one with such infinitesimal probability that if I were still a high school junior, I’d slap myself on the face with disdain and proceed to proclaim the infallibility of the human mind and the naturalistic constructs stemming from it. Nothing could persuade me otherwise. NOTHING. Yet, by what can only be categorized as an unscientific “miracle,” I now profess my faith in Jesus. I truly can’t say it was because of my own reasoning, because my own reasoning leads me to the Big Bang or Darwin, not to Christ. So what was it? How is it that I now consider myself to have entered “the narrow gate,” a metaphor used by Jesus in the Book of Matthew to describe the Christian life—one that is unfettered by desires for human approval and seeks only the approval from God? Too many things aligned in my life that led me to Christ, and not the least of them was being randomly contacted by a Harvard student over the summer about a campus ministry at Harvard, bonding with that particular student and others in the ministry very quickly, and discovering over time that not all Christians are the stereotypical hypocrites or lunatics. I have entered the narrow gate because I now find the scriptures to be a constant source of life, which, if suddenly snatched away from me, would render life completely meaningless for me.
Yet there’s one thing that troubles a lot of atheists, professors of other faiths, and even a decent number of Christians today: how Christianity can be so exclusive that only those who believe it will be granted eternal life. This sense of exclusivity—one that brooks no room for allegiance to other deities, or in the case of atheists, humans themselves, is what gets Christians so much flack for being narrow-minded, bigoted, and ultimately repugnant. How dare Jesus claim that “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Surely, with so many Gods, deities, and philosophies in the world, the probability that Jesus is right is so small that it might as well be zero. In terms of mathematical reasoning, believing in Jesus is insane. Yet surely mathematics and the appeals of human rationality cannot be the only determinants of our existence. At least not for me. I don’t decide how many hours I sleep every night based on complex calculations and reasoning; I sleep because I feel like it. In the same vein, I don’t believe in Christ because someone has proved that he is the truth. I believe because it appeals to my most rudimentary senses. In many ways, my faith has become like my sleep. Sure, I had lived many years before without shutting my eyes and I thought it felt at least pretty decent. Now that I’ve found out what it feels like to fall into a deep, invigorating slumber, I have no reason to fight it by staying up all night. Hey, if you like pulling all-nighters, I have no judgments. However, I do highly recommend the rest I’m getting for my soul.
The gate is narrow because it just is.