Jesus isn’t knocking at the door; He left the door open, for heaven’s sake!
Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20)
As a child growing up in a fundamental, evangelical church, attending my share of summer, fall and winter camps and the resulting gospel message, this verse was probably the second most widely used verse in the scriptures, right behind John 3:16. This verse came up usually somewhere during the actual invitation to become a Christian. Jesus was standing outside the door of your heart right now waiting to get in. Can’t you hear Him knocking? Won’t you let Him in?
Indeed, this verse may be the source of the common evangelical-speak, “Have you accepted Jesus into your heart as your personal Savior?” – a phrase, by the way, that has no founding in scripture except maybe for this verse. It’s amazing how some of these phrases become equal to the word of God.
Recently, it has come to my attention that using this verse as a source of an individual personal relationship with Christ is not necessarily what was intended. The context is not salvation, it is about revitalizing the church. It is part of a prophetic message given in Revelation to seven churches in the end times. This particular church, named Laodicea, is going through the motions of being a church, but is “lukewarm” in it’s passion for Christ (“neither hot nor cold”). The indictment against it is strong: “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” And the solution is direct: “I counsel you 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. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent” (Rev 3:17-19)
This is what backs us up to the former verse, “Behold I stand at the door and knock…” The picture leaves no doubt. Here is a church trying to be church, and Jesus isn’t even in the building! They left Him outside! This is not about individuals being saved, it’s about a church full of hypocrites – a church without Jesus. Kind of hard to do, but quite possible in a time of affluence as we have now in America. So the invitation to open the door is to let Jesus into the center of what is rightfully His. Accept His discipline. Accept the truth about yourselves (you aren’t what you think you are) and get back to the Lord’s supper, where we all have fellowship over the forgiveness of our sins and Jesus is in our midst and we’re never quite sure what’s going to happen next.
And as far as the open door of salvation is concerned: that door’s already open. Jesus left it open. We can walk right in to where He is and He can walk right in to our hearts.
This makes a lot more sense, don’t you think? Besides, I always felt kind of sorry for poor Jesus out there in the cold waiting for someone to open the door. It always made Him seem so helpless. I don’t think so.