Archive for the ‘Narrow Gate’ Category

Crowds or No Crowds at the Narrow Gate?

November 16, 2010

One popular theory in economics is the idea that there is wisdom in the crowd. A typical demonstration experiment in this area is to have a classroom full of students guess the number of coins or marbles in a jar. The individual guesses are then averaged and the result is compared to the final answer. If the experiment works as planned, the result of the crowd guessing is sometimes more accurate than any individual guess, and usually is better than most of the individual guesses.

Another example of crowd wisdom — a more intuitive example — is the example of the two barbershops in the small town. You show up in a small town in need of a haircut and find two barbershops side by side. One has a long line waiting to get their hair cut, the other will take you immediately for the same price. If you don’t have additional information, your intuition suggests that there is a reason for the crowd at the first barbershop, and so you join the line.

There are, however, some clear counter-examples. There are times when the crowd is always wrong. A prime example is amusement parks. One of the worst times to go to the amusement park is the time when the greatest number of people think it is a good time to go. If you go at that time, it will be the most crowded, and consequently less than optimally enjoyable. You’ll wait for hours to get on a ride, to get food, and so forth.

The issue of the narrow gate provides both an example and a counter-example. Our Lord provided the following teaching:

Matthew 7:13-14
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.

Luke 13:22-30
And he went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then said one unto him, “Lord, are there few that be saved?”
And he said unto them,
Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, “Lord, Lord, open unto us;” and he shall answer and say unto you, “I know you not whence ye are:” then shall ye begin to say, “We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets.” But he shall say, “I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity.” There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. And they shall come from the east, and from the west, and from the north, and from the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. And, behold, there are last which shall be first, and there are first which shall be last.

This parable suggests to us that in this life the crowds will mostly go on the broad path – and the crowd will be wrong. Before you join a church because it has numerous adherents, it’s something to think about. Our rule of faith is not the crowds, but the Word of God contained in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments.

On the other hand, the crowd will eventually get it. Once it is too late, the crowd will realize that Jesus the Lord of Glory had himself been in their midst. This was particularly applicable to the first century Jews, but it has a broader application to us as well.

Many self-labeled “Christians” eat and drink in the presence of the Scriptures, and the Scriptures may even prominently feature in their religious rites. But unless they follow the narrow path – unless they trust in Christ alone for salvation – they will not enter in.

The answer to the question in the topic of this post then is “both: at first no crowds, but later enormous crowds.” Beat the crowds, repent of your sins and trust in Christ while there is still time.


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