“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him and he with me.” (Revelation 3:20)
When I was a child, I thought fear was a monster. Now I know it’s a paper tiger. Fear of what could happen coupled with the desire for comfort and ease can cause us to close our door to Jesus and to others while thinking we are doing ourselves a service. In this self-protective vault, we think we can diminish risk. Instead, we cease to venture, to love, to trust, to give. Eventually, we become spiritually impoverished even though we may appear to be doing well.
“For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” (Rev. 3:17)
We are the ones who are destitute and in need of a place at God’s lavish table as a son or daughter. Jesus knows this, so in His extravagant love, He knocks on our door and says, “Dine with me”.
The severe indictment of the church in Laodicea that had grown self-sufficient and complacent was followed by this loving invitation from Jesus. That’s relentless pursuit. That’s not a half-baked invitation for fast food from a commitment-phobic narcissist. That’s love worth letting in.
When Jesus dines with us, love drives away fear.
When Jesus dines with us, we find rest and refuge from uncertainty.
When Jesus dines with us, we encounter unspeakable joy.
When Jesus dines with us, we become self-forgetting, yet more our true selves.
When Jesus dines with us, our hearts soften.
And that’s the beginning of part two.
Because when Jesus dines with us, we begin to love our neighbors, the foreigner, the stranger, the poor, the person of another religion or race, the orphan, the prisoner, and the refugee. When we encounter Jesus, we encounter transformative grace and compassion. “Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body.” (Hebrews 13:3).
When we receive the person who is in need, Jesus said we are receiving him.
When we turn away the person who is in need, Jesus said we are turning him away.
Jesus made it clear that we cannot invite him in without caring for ‘the least of these’. He’s relentless. Unstoppable. Still, after all the times we’ve shut him out and been indifferent towards those who are in need. He loves us profoundly and unconditionally, but he is also on a mission to help the least and to seek and save the lost through us. As John Wesley said, “There is no motive which so powerfully inclines us to love God as the sense of the love of God in Christ. Nothing enables us like a piercing conviction of this to give our hearts to him who was given for us. And from this principle of grateful love to God arises love to our brother also.”
Sometimes we treat Jesus like an unwelcomed stranger standing outside our door.
“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ “ (Matthew 20:35-40)