One popular and widespread opinion of Christians is that they are narrow-minded people with blinkered vision. They travel a narrow, difficult and lonely road that bypasses all the wonderful attractions this world has to offer.
It’s like a totally urban person who thinks the fell walker is a person deprived of pleasure. Why would anyone subject themselves to the rigorous of climbing hills and mountains, equipping themselves with special clothing and footwear and carrying food and shelter with them? Why suffer the win, the rain, the cold and the heat, and forsake the comforts of AC, refrigeration and the wonderful life indoors? Only a fanatic would travel those narrow paths, and fail to see the beauties of the wide urban avenues with their comforting high-rise glass and concrete structures, such a panoramic view of which is available from the latest SUV!
You mightn’t have the boots, the wet gear, or the inclination to join our intrepid fell walker, but I’m sure we can all see the follow of such notions. They couldn’t be further from the truth. The walker may follow a lonely, narrow and winding path, but they walk through wide open spaces! Forget the wide open urban thoroughfares, gridlocked and reeking of automobile fumes. Who has the better view?
And the narrow-minded Christian walking a lonely, difficult path? The psalmist knows that through the path is narrow, he walks “in a wide place” (45). While God’s law constrains, it does not constrain half so much as sin (breaking God’s law). If anything blinkers the mind it is sin and rebellion against God’s law.
Keeping God’s law, living according to it, enlarges the heart (32)—not the physical organ, nor even the emotions, but in Hebrew thought the intellect and the emotions. Far from opening the mind, sin closes it. Sin locks God out of my thinking (Rm 1), and blocks God from my vision (2Co 4). Instead of seeing a whole universe, I see only my little corner. And living, as I do, in the dark kingdom (Col 1:14), my spirit is affected. Just an n physical darkness I see less clearly, so too in the spiritual realm, I see with less clarity. I grope intellectually, bumping into things I can’t see, and can never make sense of, just as I would if I were physically abandoned in a dark, cluttered room.
My freedom has become a prison, I know there is more to life, if only I could see it, if only I had the capacity to understand it. I’m the victim of the same cruel deception that befell our first parents in the Garden (Gn 3)—I’m blinded by one who would deny me the very sight I need (2Co 4:4). Living in such a cramped world where even the intellectual are so limited as to be insufficient to give my heart the exercise it so desperately needs, I need my heart enlarged. This is precisely what the Gospel of Jesus Christ has done. The same God who created the physical light from the primeval darkness, that aided the explosion of life on the young earth, is prepared to do the same in my dark benighted mind. I can have an enlarged heart, if only I will but open myself to the light that he has shone in the hearts of so many Christian believers—“the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2Co 4:6).
Then how will I walk? Where will life take me after that glorious sunrise in my soul? Along a narrow, difficult track? Yes, most certainly, “for the gate is narrow, and the way is hard that leads to life” (Mt 7:14). But this narrow, difficult track will let me walk in a wide place (Ps 119:45), just a s the narrow mountain track leads through the wide open spaces of unspoilt beauty and grandeur. Who would want to grope blindly in a dark room when the vast expanse of God’s universe is available to them> Who would want to retain the dismal man-made intellectually crippling, spiritually suffocating world of rebellion against God, when the glorious, heart-enlarging, mind-expanding, spiritually invigorating universe of the great God of eternity lies before them!
How shall I achieve this liberation? By throwing off all restraint? By bursting the bonds and casting away the cords (cf Ps 2:6)?
No! But by bowing to the constraints of Almighty God. By turning from my way to his way. By bowing my knee (Php 2:10) and my heart, and will, and pride in contrite repentance and absolute submission to the king God has set on his holy hill (Ps 2:6), the Lord of heaven and hearth, the Lord Jesus Christ, When I confess him my Lord (Php 2:11) I will experience what Charles Wesley experienced:
Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
Thine eye diffused a quickening ray—
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;
My chains fell off, my heart was free,
I rose, went forth, and followed Thee.
God’s law, which from the outside looks like the greatest restraint on my freedom, turns out from the inside to be the most expansive place to walk I will ever know. The Torah (the law of God) turns out to be a tardis!