Open the door.
Making decisions can be difficult, even deciding to open the door. We always know we can keep it closed.
You are raised in a Christian home. You never missed church. Your parents drilled the Gospels into you as a child. You attended Sunday school. Now you are an adult and you assume you are a Christian. Have you really opened the door?
You are born into a Christian culture. There are churches everywhere. You know that most people in your culture believe and so do you [kinda]. You are a “good” person, crediting the influence of the church and the culture on your belief system but you don’t really do anything to show anyone that you believe in God. You assume you are a Christian. Have you really opened the door?
Then we have people like Saul, who was on the road to Damascus. He was getting quite famous for being a Christian persecutor. Suddenly a bolt of light hit him and he fell from his horse and he heard the voice of God: “Why are you using violence against me?” His life was never the same from that point on. He became a soldier in God’s kingdom. He opened the door.
And we have John Wesley who tried to “force” himself to be devout. He knew he should be but the natural, heartfelt acceptance of God as his Savior was lacking. In 1738, Wesley reluctantly attended a group meeting on the evening of May 24th on Aldersgate Street in London. As he heard a reading from Luther’s preface to the Epistle to the Romans, he felt his “heart strangely warmed.” He writes in his journal, “I felt that God loved me.” He opened the door.
There was a man who felt he knew it all, that he was totally in control of his life, just to wake up one morning and get a shocking message that plunged him into a “lost state.” For the first time in his life, he cried out “I don’t know what to do God: I need help!” He was “at the end of himself.” Help came from God as the message came about what to do. Help came from Christians who mentored the man and he gave his life to Christ. He opened the door.*
Opening the door is hard; it is admitting need. One needs what is on the other side of the door. Many do not perceive their need; their attitude is “I need nothing.”
What is on the other side of the door? Holman Hunt created a painting in 1853 which is entitled “The Light of the World.” Jesus is carrying a light and He is knocking on a long unopened door seeking entrance. The painting is based on Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any man hears My voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.” John Stott uses this painting to illustrate the personal commitment that “real” Christians have to make to Jesus Christ. They choose to open the door and let Him in. “Every responsible adult is obliged to make up his own mind for or against Christ. We cannot remain neutral. Nor can we drift into Christianity. Nor can anybody settle the matter for us. We must decide for ourselves” [Stott, 121].
I would be remiss if I did not state right now that responses to Jesus’ knock do not have to always be dramatic, a bolt of light, a warmed heart or an anguished cry for help. The decision to open the door to Jesus can come in many, many forms.
But “true faith will translate such mental belief into a decisive act of truth. Intellectual conviction must lead to personal commitment” . Whether dramatic or not, the knock of Jesus on our door requires our decision to follow Him, our commitment to further His kingdom.
It is a humbling moment for a person to admit that they need help. They need a Savior. Stott was told that he needed to appreciate what Christ did for him. Jesus came to earth and died an ignoble death so that Stott [and all of us] could be saved.
We live in a world that does not encourage humility. Many have material prosperity and they have accumulated that at the expense of a real appreciation for the gifts that God has given all of us. “Look at me in my fine home, my fancy car. I live a successful life on my own God, thank you very much.” Stott writes that material prosperity has invaded the church and brought with it a “complacency”. Stott is hard on these people, people who like to look the part but they really don’t do anything to show they really believe. He calls them “Christians in name only”, their interests are “shallow” and “casual.” Jesus said in the Gospels that this type of person is lukewarm, not hot or cold, they are “distasteful to Him.” Stott writes this type of person is suffering from self-delusion: they say “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.” They don’t know they are “wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked” .
Let’s say we open the door to Jesus. He comes into our “house” and we commit ourselves to Him. Being the people we are, our natural question is what is He going to give me? Here is the answer: commitment to Christ gives us righteousness. We grow to want to meet God’s standard of obeying His laws [every attribute, every attitude, every behavior, and every word]. We can’t meet this perfect standard but we want to try. When we fail, God extends His grace to us as we seek forgiveness and continue on in our quest for obeying God’s laws. Christians do not have the strength to do this on their own, but “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” [2 Corinthians 5: 21].
Commitment to Christ gives us a hunger for spiritual wealth. We begin to see that money and possessions will not bring us what we need; we need happiness that derives from God-centered behavior, spiritual knowledge of God and His word and a freedom from sin.
As I write about Jesus at the door, He is knocking on it. He is not pushing it open. He could put His shoulder into the door and force it open. He is not shouting at us to open the door. The irony is that Jesus is the owner of the house. Stott writes “He is the architect, He designed it. He is the builder; He built it” . We are only tenants in a house which does not belong to us. He is knocking and waiting, waiting for us to open it. It is a decision: to open the door to Jesus or keep it closed.
What will you do?
*That man was me.