Matthew 7 reads (in the NIV) ‘13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.’
This is not a doctrinal statement by Jesus about who gets into heaven. That’s what I learned growing up. If you don’t accept Jesus (the narrow way) then you are destined for the fires of hell (destruction).
No, what Jesus is saying is better expressed in the MESSAGE version. ‘13-14 “Don’t look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don’t fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention.’
Jesus is inviting his disciples into the God life, the best life possible here on earth. That’s the life Jesus is talking about. And yes it requires discipline. Anything worthwhile requires putting our all into it, whether sports, music, business, marriage, or peace.
Try forgiving someone without holding on for dear life to the grace of God. And yes that grace requires our fullest attention. I think that’s why Paul at one point wrote that we are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling because God is already at work in us. God life is the life God in Christ invites us to. It’s why God reconciled us through the sacrifice of Jesus.
Those in Jesus’ time who took life into their own hands found out about destruction at the hands of the Romans. They brought it on to themselves when they refused to follow the Messiah. We bring destruction onto ourselves, our work, our life, and even our churches when we do it our way. Jesus invites us to walk in the vigorous way of faith. And it takes a whole lot of practice along with God’s grace.