In Matthew chapter 7, Jesus says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” It’s a fairly common theme. “For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14). “Though your people be like the sand by the sea, Israel, only a remnant will return” (Isaiah 10:22). “What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened” (Rom. 11:7).
Flattering, isn’t it? If you’re a believer, you’re part of a small select group of saints, the spiritual elite, the insiders, the chosen ones. Most people, sadly, reject their own salvation. They’re spiritually blind, rebellious, wicked, and unrepentant. But not you. You’re special. You’re different. And there aren’t many like you. You’re the spiritual 1%.
This is one aspect of the Gospel that, in my opinion, goes a bit overboard. It’s just too obvious that we’re dealing with a myth designed specifically to appeal to people’s pride and narcissism. Think about it: flattering people may be great marketing, but what it’s really saying is that, in the struggle for men’s souls, God loses most of the time.
Let’s go all the way back to the beginning, according to Christian theology. According to Christian dogma, God is the only self-existent Being. At a certain point, nothing existed but God. And God said, “Hmm, I think I’ll create a universe, with a world that will be home to My own children, made in My image, whom I love enough to literally die for. And then I’ll stack the deck against Myself so that they rebel against Me, so that I actually do have to die to save them—and even then I’ll fail to save more than just a tiny percentage of them. I’ll be a loser 99% of the time.”
Doesn’t make much sense, does it? But that’s because we’re thinking forward. If we start with the premise that God is all-wise, all-knowing, all-powerful, and all-loving, and ask ourselves where He would go from square one, given carte blanche to create whatever He likes, we simply do not end up with God the Biggest Loser. But that’s not where the Gospel starts from. The Gospel starts in human psychology, and the things people like to believe.
The elitism and vanity of the Gospel expose it as a self-congratulatory fantasy, a conceit that spreads by promising people special status for essentially nothing. You don’t have to be smart to be “saved,” you just have to believe the Gospel. Nor do you have to be strong, or gifted, or socially well-connected, or rich. Just believe the flattery, and you’re in. Small wonder it’s so popular!
But like most stories that are too good to be true, it’s a fraud. It flatters man at God’s expense, thus exposing its inherent self-centeredness. The doctrinal content of the Gospel does not come from observing any verifiable, real-world facts about God, it comes from discovering what sorts of things people are willing to believe. And since people like to believe things that flatter them and make them feel unique, and superior to others, these are the kind of doctrines that rise to prominence in the Gospel. (This is why, in a pluralistic society, Christians will put down non-Christians, and in a Christian society, they’ll put down other Christians, so that they can be the true believers.)
We don’t really need flattery, and we definitely don’t need a loser God. Far better for us to have a realistic view of ourselves and those around us, and to earn our reputations by hard work and diligent application of our skills. Wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads the gullible to self-deception, through the unmerited praise of those who would exploit them; but small is the gate and narrow the path that leads the skeptical to an objective understanding of the truth. And sadly, few there are that find it. But there’s always hope.