"As Jesus went on His way through cities and villages, teaching and journeying on to Jerusalem, someone said to Him, Lord, are they few that are saved? And He said unto them, ‘Strive to enter in by the narrow door, for many, I say unto you, shall seek to enter in and shall not be able’ " (Luke 13:22-24).
The Greek word Jesus used which is translated "strive" is AGONIDZO, (sounds almost like our word "agonize"). The term has an interesting history. The "agon" was once used to describe the place or location of the games or contests the Greeks were famous for, held every four years on the plain of Olympia. Today we call those games the Olympics.
Beginning in B.C. 776, with the only contest being a foot race, the number of games gradually increased to twenty-four, including wrestling, boxing, chariot-racing and horse-racing. The victor of the contest was crowned with wreaths of wild olive and such adulation was paid to him and his family that no effort was too great for a contestant to put forth in order to win. In Athens the victor was maintained at public cost for the remainder of his life! In that case the reward was worth every bit of the effort involved.
That’s the way it will be with Heaven - worth the “striving” it will take to get there. Jesus never indicated it would be easy to be saved, but would be only for those who would be willing to strive or "agonize." Although many would "seek" to enter in, those who would be only casual in their service to the Lord would not succeed.. Only when that "seeking" becomes our top priority will it be "striving."
Jesus taught His disciples not to focus their attention on the physical things of life, but to "seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you" (Matthew 6:33). It’s easy to spend our time and money on the physical things of life and neglect the more important spiritual things. Perhaps that’s why Jesus compared the struggle involved in an athlete competing in a contest to the effort involved in being His disciple.
Paul also compared the Christian life to the struggle of the games: "Don’t you know that they who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. And everyone that strives in the games exercises self-control in all things. Now they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim, I box in such a way, not as beating the air, but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified " (1 Corinthians 9:23-27).
Paul knew that the imperishable reward was worth making any sacrifice (Romans 8:18). Do we?
To become a Christian we must believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, repent of our sins, confess His name before men and be baptized in order to have our sins forgiven. And that’s when the “striving” begins. Jesus said that in order to receive the crown of life, we must be faithful unto death (Revelation 2:10).That doesn’t mean until we grow old and die but that we must remain faithful even if we have to suffer and die for our faith.