Monday, November 25, 2013

Who is Outside Knocking?

In Revelation 3;14-22 Jesus Christ, THE Head of the Church is standing outside the door of the church of Laodicea, and he was knocking (v20). To me this is one of the most extraordinary pictures in the Bible. Jesus Christ outside his own church! Christ knocking on the church’s door!

We often preach this passage as a message to unbelievers inviting them to open their hearts to Christ. There is nothing wrong with that. The first application is not to unbelievers, but to the church!

Think about the One who is knocking at the door: He is the glorified Lord, who has just been revealed to John. He is the head of the church and the church is his body. He loves the church, and without him, there would be no church to love.

His whole life centers on the church. On the cross, he gave himself to bring the church into being. Now, in heaven, he lives to direct the church in its mission, to sustain the church amid all the assaults of her enemies, and one day he will come in power and glory to bring the church into the joy of his immediate presence forever.

The life of Christ centers on the church. But (in Laodicea) the life of the church did not center on Christ. Christ was outside, knocking at the door.

How can Christ be outside a church?

1. Christ can be outside the preaching of a church 

There many Bible centered Christ centered messages given, but there are also many churches to today where the message is people centered and not Christ centered. Many preachers are occupied with growing their numbers. The preaching is filled with story-telling and entertainment. Christ is too often outside the preaching.

2. Christ can be outside the mission of a church 

“Go make disciples of all nations… teaching them to obey all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20) is a radically Christ-centered mission. But many churches are redefining mission in a way that leaves Jesus outside, knocking at the door of mission.

3. Christ can be outside the fellowship of a church

It is possible to have fellowship groups where we encourage one another, but Christ is outside. Christian fellowship goes beyond doing life together. It is about “walking with Christ together through life.”

The word “fellowship” literally means sharing in a common life. When Christ lives in us, we share in his life together. Getting into a small group for fellowship is a marvelous benefit, and building supportive relationships is a huge blessing, I commend it to you.

But let’s be careful to keep Christ at the center of our fellowship. We don’t want him outside knocking on the door.

Why is Christ knocking? 

S.W.A.T. teams can knock a door down. They have the gear to do it. Jesus Christ is the sovereign Lord of power and glory. Closed doors never stand in his way.

After Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples locked the door in the house where they were gathered. They were afraid of the authorities. But a barred door was no problem to the risen Christ. He came through the walls and appeared to them!

Christ can barge through any door at any time of his choosing. The strongest door installed in a bank vault or in a high security prison is no hindrance to him. But here we find Jesus knocking at the door. Why is he knocking?

What does Christ want? 

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. Revelation 3:20

Communion! Fellowship with us! Here is why Christ is knocking. Fellowship cannot be forced. Communion cannot be commanded. Christ cannot have fellowship with us by breaking down the door.

Jesus says, “if anyone hears my voice…” That means he is not only knocking, he is also speaking. The door must be opened. What Christ seeks involves a choice for us.

The fact that Christ is knocking at the door is good news for us. He wants fellowship with us more that we want fellowship with him. If the whole church was aflame with passion for communion with Christ, and he did not want communion with us, we would be completely hopeless.

The good news is that Christ seeks a deeper fellowship with his people. He is at the door. He is knocking. The great challenge for the church at Laodicea was the low temperature of their spiritual life. They were neither hot nor cold, but somewhere in between.

Spiritual temperature rises as Christ becomes central to the whole life and ministry of a church. That includes a church’s preaching, mission, and fellowship.

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