My second “ah ha” about “doors” this past week is the mistaken but common assumption that the scripture in Revelation—“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me”—refers to Christ’s call to the heart of the unbeliever. But this is not in context.
These words are directed to the Church, the lukewarm church of Laodicea, to be specific. This church had become lazy. “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing…” They thought they were rich, but in reality they were “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” It was in this context that Christ called them to hear His voice and open the door. This is a call to repentance to the believer who has stopped following hard, to the Church who has become like the world. And while it involves discipline, we are encouraged that the Lord disciplines those He loves. He counsels this church to “buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.”
Refining gold is a fiery process. Soren Kierkegaard said, “God punishes the ungodly by ignoring them. This is why they have success in the world—the most frightful punishment because in God’s view, this world is immersed in evil. But God sends suffering to those whom he loves, as assistance to enable them to become happy by loving him.”
There are several old paintings of Christ standing at the door about to knock; in most, there is no door knob on the outside. Perhaps there is a closed door that I am to open. I pray I hear the knocking and the voice of the One who calls me nowhere other than closer and more like Him, even if it means discomfort and suffering. No one of us will suffer more than our Master. And if we follow the Master, we will suffer.
Then, “To him who overcomes ((“Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.”)), I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says.”
Our God is a God of covenants. He cannot break his covenant, and He doesn’t even though we do. We see this clearly in the Old Testament and His care for Israel. His love for them was an everlasting love—even though they failed Him again and again, he still retained His covenant with them. And He still keeps His promises today. Mark Driscoll and Gary Breshears in their book, “Doctrine” say, “New dimensions are brought to light when Christ’s covenant is understood in the context of His previous covenants. Covenants are about God’s activity and intention to redeem us, and the covenants tell us about ourselves—our condition, our brokenness, our dignity, our role as images of God, our suffering, and our calling.”
So we hear Him knocking… calling us back into His covenant, calling us away from lukewarm commitment (is there such a thing?) and into His protection, provision and presence. Will the American Church hear and respond? Or will we be spit out His mouth?