In the previous post entitled “The Decision to Open the Door” [August 19, 2022] I refer to John Stott’s use of the image of Christ at our door, knocking to get in. One can look at the famous painting entitled “The Light of the World” and see that the door that Jesus is knocking on does not have a door knob. It has to be opened from the inside. “The Decision” is focused on just that, our decision to let Jesus in (a metaphor for letting Jesus into our lives).
Let’s take the metaphor further. He is knocking, knocking, knocking and the big question is what must we do? John Stott in his book Basic Christianity says we must listen to His voice. Many choose to turn a deaf ear to Jesus or drown out the whisper of Jesus’ voice. “Sometimes we hear the voice through the pricklings of the conscience, sometimes through the gropings of the mind. Or it may be a moral defeat, or the seeming emptiness and meaninglessness of our existence, or an inexplicable spiritual hunger, or sickness, bereavement, pain or fear” [Stott, 125-26]. Whatever the vehicle, Jesus’s message is clearly delivered; you need Me. “I can get you through what you are going through.”
Secondly, we must open the door. This is the actual act of faith that triggers our act of submission to our Lord and Savior. This signifies that we indeed need Him. Stott says the door does not swing open by chance. It is not partially opened with Jesus peeping in. It is closed and we have to decide to allow Him entry. “ If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in” [from Revelation 3: 20]. Everyone must make his or her own decision to do this. No one does this for you. Pastors, parents, counselors, friends can point the way, but you have to decide to let Him in.
Stott writes that this is a unique act. “Your hand and only yours can draw back the bolts and turn the handle” . When Christ comes inside [inside your life] He will bolt the door from the inside and will never abandon the house. “Sin may drive Him into the cellar or the attic” but He won’t leave. “He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” [Hebrews 13:5].
Here is a catch. Opening the door does not make one an angel. Christ can enter and cleanse you of your sins but it is the beginning of of a long-term transformation process. You character will begin to be molded to His will. It only takes a moment to open the door and receive forgiveness but it is the beginning of a lifetime of adjustment.
Stott likens the process to renovating a home. There are so many shows on television today detailing the steps one makes to renovate. The process can be wrapped up in a thirty minute segment or at the most, an hour. That is not the way it works with Jesus. His entry is only the beginning. The full quotation from Revelation 3:20 is “If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with Me”. Many Christians love to call Jesus their friend; can you imagine The Christ coming into your home and sharing a meal? Can you imagine conversing with Jesus, enjoying His companionship? Revelation 3: 20 really says we have been strangers but now we are friends. We have had a door between us but now we are sharing a meal.
Here is the part that most new Christians do not understand. Jesus comes in as our Lord and Master. Our house is now under His management. I think of Him as cleaning up all the rooms in my house (even though it may be bad to picture Jesus as a cleaning person). No area is hidden. Stott says “As He steps across the threshold, we must hand Him our whole bunch of keys, granting Him free access into every room” .
What does He ask of us? He asks us to repent of our sins. Sin displeases God and it is because we cannot clean up ourselves, that He needs to come into our house. We cannot forgive ourselves and we cannot make the needed improvements without His wisdom and power. Many people feel they can change on their own [thank you very much God!] but in my experience, the extermination of bad habits needs a power most of us don’t have.
Stott says we must think of God as rearranging the furniture in our homes, with total power to do so. We don’t need to resist His efforts but in my experience most of us do. Stott writes “[there should be] no attempt to negotiate our own terms, but rather an unconditional surrender to the lordship of Christ” . This language is so vague and it has to be; Stott cannot tell each of us what the Lord will demand and what problems we have that must be addressed. He just says it this way “forsake evil and follow Christ.”
I love the way he closes this section of Chapter 10, because he calls on those who open their doors to trust Christ. There is much work to be done and much more to the Christian life than letting Christ in and confessing our sin, but this is the necessary first step. To be a Christian, we must take it:
“Lord Jesus Christ, I acknowledge that I have gone my own way. I have sinned in thought, word and deed. I am sorry for my sins. I turn from them in repentance. I believe that You died for me, bearing my sins in your own body. I thank You for your great love. Now I open the door. Come in Lord Jesus. Come in as my Savior and cleanse me. Come in as my Lord and take control of me. I will serve as You give me strength, all my life.”
The prayer of salvation.
Hear His voice.
Open the door.
Pray the prayer.
Get ready. He will rearrange your furniture, clean your house and take control of all your keys.
Just what we need…