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Easy Street and Vanity Fair, or the Road Less Traveled

Gavin Peacock

The “easy” or “broad” way

“The signs along this wide avenue read, “Welcome to each of you and to all your friends, the more the merrier. Travel as you wish and as fast as you wish. There are no restrictions.”

That quote was from William Hendrickson and his commentary on the “easy” or the “broad” way in Matthew 7:13-14:

“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.”

This word “easy” or “broad” (v.13) means “wide, spacious, broad”. Beware of this way! It is the way of the world. It is the way, which is easy to find. In fact it is the way on which people naturally walk apart from God’s kingdom rule in their lives. It is the way that says, “I define what I do, say and think. I am lord of my own life in terms of the plans I make and the places I go.” “Easy Street” is the road of selfish desire, ambition and self-preservation.

Vanity Fair

“Easy Street” is the address of Vanity Fair in John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, “a fair where they would see all sorts of vanity, and it should last all the yearlong. Therefore at this fair are all such things sold as houses, lands, trades, places, honors, preferments, titles, countries, kingdoms, lusts, pleasures, and delights of all sorts, as wives, husbands, children, masters, servants, lives, blood, bodies, souls, silver, gold, pearls, precious stones, and what not.”

Oh, how easily we can be distracted, gaze, and drift towards “Easy Street” and Vanity Fair.

The “hard" or “narrow” way

But enter the narrow gate and you travel a hard way. The sides of the road are defined by God’s will. There is a restriction to it, and trials, opposition and persecution mark it. This is the way of the Christian. The word for “hard” (v.14) or “narrow” has the sense of pressure or tribulation. The same word is used by Paul in Acts 14:22, “…through many tribulationswe must enter the kingdom of God.”

In contrast to the easy way, the way of a Christian is hard. However, the former leads to destruction (v.13) while the latter leads to life (v.14).

Decisions declare our way

The allure of Vanity Fair will be great for every one of us this week. Just look at the list in Bunyan’s description and fill in the gap for yourself. We will get up in the morning and be bombarded by the distractions of work, family and pleasures of many kinds that will take us away from communion with God and time in his Word. The stand we take on human sexuality - manhood, womanhood and marriage will set us in opposition to the world and we will be ridiculed. We will risk rejection and isolation if we tell the gospel to a family member, neighbor or work colleague.

We may make big decisions about where to live, what job to take and what to do with our money, or smaller ones concerning what we watch on TV. Time and money spent on our children’s sports is a big issue for parents today. These smaller everyday decisions are significant gospel moments that shape us for the bigger decisions. They are not easy, but the decisions we make determine the way we walk, and the way walk declares whether we are Christians. Decisions declare our way.

So the question is what will govern our way this week? Will our decisions be controlled by what is most glorifying to God and his church, and displays his kingdom rule in our lives? The majority walks down “Easy Street” to Vanity Fair. However, the Christian walks on the road less travelled; the narrow road constrained by God’s word; the road to Calvary and marked by tribulation, but the road that leads to life. But remember that on this road we follow a person, Jesus Christ. He is the way the truth and the life. Love for who he is and what he has done for us in his death and resurrection, will sweeten the trials along the way and bring clarity to the difficult and costly decisions we make.