My mind is spinning with prophecy, symbols, analogies, dates and times. Partly because I am reading the book of Ezekiel as my primary reading, then reading Revelation as a secondary. (The church we are attending has started a series on Revelation, so I thought it would be good to get up to speed.)
I have mentioned before the joy of reading a virgin text of the Bible and how it allows me to see new things and make new observations. This is true and continues to be so. A good example is today when reading Revelation. I came across that verse most of us have seen, can quote, and know as a part of our “plan of salvation” speech. It is Revelation 3:20
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.
This verse is a good example of pulling a text out of context and using it for something that it may not be intended for. As I mentioned above, it is a verse that is often used with reference to someone inviting Christ in to their life as a part of the “born again” experience. However, the context seems to give it not an evangelistic flavor, rather an admonishing one.
The letter to Laodicea is a fairly specific example of a church out of kilter. They have become fence sitters. Neither totally committed to their Lord, nor totally rebellious. They are just there. Similar to some churches today.
The invitation in 3:20 then becomes a challenge to them to open the door to total commitment and enjoy the full fellowship of Christ and the joy that relationship brings. Not only the joy, but motivation to service and the strength to be conquerors.
In our culture we tend to be concrete thinkers. That does not mean to say our mind is set and hardened. It means to say that we like things that are black and white, tangible, touchable, observable, and in some cases, provable. It is as though we are all citizens of the “show me” state of Missouri. Unless we can touch it, taste it, see it and smell it, it is does not exist.
We carry this thinking over into many areas of our lives even our theology. That is, in the example of Rev. 3:20, the terms or phrases we have adopted for coming to salvation seem to have one and only one meaning. We cannot envision that verse applying to believers. It does not fit our scheme of thinking. So our tendency is to force it into a meaning that makes sense to us. We do that with a wide variety of scripture passages or biblical words. Consequently, as one commentator said about this passage:
“…The terminology and context suggest that the Laodiceans were for the most part mere professing Christians who lacked authentic conversion to Christ, which is the essential prerequisite for true discipleship.” (Alan Johnson, EBC, Vol.,12., p. 459)
I would argue the contrary. The context speaks loudly for just the opposite. But you can see how Mr. Johnson has molded the passage and that particular “letter” to fit his way of thinking. I probably do the same at times.
My level of commitment to Christ is often a shadow of what I see addressed to the Laodiceans. Therefore, I am encouraged by this verse. Christ does not cast me out, rather encourages me to invite him in to restore full and meaningful fellowship. It is as simple as opening the door. After all, it is not just any ol’ somebody that is knocking, it is my savior!