One thing we Christians all share in common, in addition to Jesus, is that we stray from Him in terms of our daily fellowship. We might go hours or days without thinking much about the Lord, praying, meditating on the word, or seeking true fellowship with like-minded believers. For me it becomes like a spiritual counterpart to that grungy feeling you get when you need a hot shower.
We actually prolong the grunginess much longer than it needs to last. Our sinful flesh is crafty, and if it cannot get us to wallow in the sin itself, it will get us to wallow in this kind of self-pity, shame/blame downward spiral that keeps us from turning to the Lord. We feel unworthy, which we are, so that’s not even the point. We somehow think if we wait until the heat is off we can do something good to compensate, like reading the word, witnessing, cleaning up our act, etc.
Well today I am going to share a verse I know Jim and I agree on and which I suspect even Sophie will like:
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone will hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me (Revelation 3:20).
For years I heard this verse used in the context of evangelism. You know, invite Jesus into your heart. It was included in the Four Spiritual Laws booklet, and many a Billy Graham sermon concluded with it. Without a doubt many people can pinpoint the moment they trusted Christ by prayng and inviting Jesus in, based on this verse. I think the important point to remember here is that it was not the inviting of Jesus into one’s heart that saved them, but rather faith in Christ.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16).
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life (John 5:24).
Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life (John 6:47).
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).
When a person exercises genuine saving faith he is immediately pronounced righteous. Now as a token of this faith he might raise his hand, walk an aisle, fill out a decision card, or pray a sinners prayer including an invitation of Jesus into his heart. As long as he is trusting Christ to save him he might well stand on his head or swing from the chandelier. These things do not save him; God saves him by grace through faith.
I labor the point because when we use Revelation 3:20 exclusively as an evangelistic appeal we miss some real food for the soul as believers. If you read the verse in context it is part of Christ’s message to the church at Laodicea. This means v. 20 is addressed to professing believers in the milieu of a local church. This congregation seemed affluent, complacent, and lukewarm ( vv. 14-17, ouch!). Jesus gives them a stern warning (v. 18). Then in v. 19 He cites Proverbs 3:11-2, verses also used in Hebrews 12:6 in the context of God disciplining His children. This unmistakably shows that Jesus is addressing Christians in v. 20.
Jesus is depicted as standing outside the church, if you can imagine a church in that condition. Jesus’ appeal is to any individual on the inside who will come and open the door of invitation to Him. The promise is that Jesus will come in to (not into) the person who opens the door. The Greek preposition used here makes it clear that it is the house (church) Jesus is entering, and not the person. After all, to mix the metaphor, He is already inside the believer. Here the idea is of Jesus coming in and up to where the believer is. Jesus promises to meet us where we are and to dine with us. In biblical times table fellowship was very intimate, so that here the Lord promises us deep communion with Himself on the lone and simple condition that we will invite Him in.
It all seems so simple, that we often miss and neglect it. We do this to our own hurt because we waste so much time and effort in our flesh that could be so much more effectively spent enjoying the fellowship of Christ. So wherever you are today in your walk, the good news is that if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we keep having fellowship with Him and His blood keeps cleansing us from sin. Why are we such knuckleheads in neglecting so great an available means of grace?
One final question that is nagging at me, and I would like some input from you the reader. In the context Jesus is addressing professing believers in a church in which He is on the outside, a church in sick shape but a church nonetheless with a lamp-stand still burning. The invitation of 3:20 is not given to anyone outside the church but on the inside. Jesus seems to be implying that we will be in a church. One reason or excuse I use for not being plugged into a church is that church sucks. Preaching is no good; music is done poorly; no friends I can relate to; theology I disagree with, no good programs. On the list goes. Well, when we look at Laodicea we see a church that really sucked. And yet Jesus presupposes that there will be someone left on the inside who will come and open the door. Anyway, I am wondering whether by cutting ourselves off from involvement with the greater Christian community we are unwittingly depriving ourselves from an opportunity for deeper fellowship with Christ.
Just a thought.