In the year 2015 my wife and I attended a conference in Nashville, Tennessee. The name of the conference was “Open Table.” I wasn’t really sure the extent of the conference, but due to one of the conference speakers, I knew I wanted to attend. Back in 2007 a book was published whose title was very intriguing to me. The book’s title? The Shack by William Paul Young. I recall purchasing the book at my local Wal-Mart. Well you guessed it, Paul Young was one of the speakers at this Open Table conference. But that’s not really what this entry is about.
As we arrived in Nashville and made our way to where this conference was being held we discovered that the majority of the registered participants did not attend church anywhere. This information came as a result of polling the conference attenders. I thought at the time, due to the subject matter of the conference, that I was witnessing a kind of trend that perhaps there were those who were somewhat disgruntled with past church experiences. At any rate, what surfaced at this conference, of which this entry is about, came during one of the breaks.
We were seated at our round conference table as people were going to the next room to receive refreshments. A particular woman, returning from the next room, happened to stop at our table to chat. At the time it did not occur to me the impact of what she was about to share. She began to tell us about a private devotional experience she had before coming to the conference. She referenced a passage of scripture located in the book of Revelation.This particular passage has been referenced numerous times particularly in evangelical circles related to what one should do in order to receive salvation in Christ. The passage is Revelation 3:20. “Behold I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Based upon the idea that one must invite Jesus “in” in order to “receive” Christ it makes sense that this passage would be adopted into the salvation line up of things we must do to be saved. However, what this woman shared with us, I will call her Elizabeth, brought about a new way of thinking of this passage. She told us that as she was in the midst of her devotional experience with the Spirit that Jesus told her specifically that he was not trying to get in but rather he was trying to get out. As I began to internalize what she had just shared with us I was reminded of the idea of paradox. Therefore, in order to come in you have to go out.
I am of the opinion that since we all were born “from above” made in the image and likeness of God we are made “of” God. We are the God-Kind. I want to suggest to you what happens to the “God-Kind” when this Jesus is not allowed to “get out.” First of all to be unaware that this Jesus is within you means there is no priority for his release. Along with that if one is not aware of the “Love” of God and how his love is demonstrated, then for the one unaware of love’s demonstration other behaviors surface that contradict our design. The behaviors reported by the news media of people killing, stealing, and generally mistreating others on a daily basis is evidence of people continuing to resist allowing Jesus to get out.
The scripture is quite clear regarding what will occur once Jesus gets out.
Luke 6:35 says, “But love ye your enemies, and do good , and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil” And Ephesians 4:32 says, “ And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
I suppose the idea of opening the door means we never again close it. It remains open and as a result, our fellowship with the Spirit of Christ Jesus continues forever. The marvelous awareness of this open door is that you and I alone have the authority to open it!