I was struck by an image in a sermon of Robin’s that he preached on 1 Corinthians 16 where Paul writes “a great door for effective work has opened”. The image of a door is a very ordinary, everyday thing, but the way it’s often used in the Bible suggests some really useful questions we could ask ourselves:
The Open Door
Is the Lord opening a new door for me?
That was the experience Paul wrote of in 1 Corinthians 16 – a new opportunity to serve Jesus. We serve Him in all kinds of ways – at home, at work, at church, with family, with friends, with colleagues, publicly, privately – each of us finds ourselves in differing circumstances. And the point is that our circumstances change from time to time – a job changes, a new friendship emerges, an invitation is offered, an opportunity to volunteer comes up…new doors opening.
Yet sometimes it’s not always easy to recognise this. In 1 Corinthians 16 Paul writes “I will stay on in Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.” (vv 8-9). If it had been me, I might have thought “there are many who oppose me, so God has clearly shut the door!” But Paul shows us that God can open new doors even in difficult circumstances – perhaps when you lose a job, or when you or someone else falls ill.
In Paul’s case, it was presumably an open door to tell people about Jesus. Elsewhere he writes “pray for us that God may open a door for our message” (Colossians 4:3).
So let’s be praying “Lord, are you opening a new door for me to serve you in some way, or to share Jesus with someone? Help me to recognise it!”
The Closed Door
Do I need to shut the door so that I can get alone with God?
We live in a world of distractions, there are a thousand things my heart, mind, eyes and ears can be captured by; the desire to spend time with our heavenly Father is easily squashed. It’s very easy to give the impression of having an active faith, and yet to neglect our inner life – godly on the outside, godless on the inside. To guard against this Jesus said ‘Shut the door!’ Literally. It wasn’t a metaphor! “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6) So is it time to review whether that is happening in your own life? Is there a point in the day when you close the door on the world in order to have some quiet time with your Father in heaven? “Father, help me to close the door and be alone with you”.
The Unanswered Door
Am I on the wrong side of the door to Jesus?
In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” They are words that have led many to open the door to Jesus for the first time. But originally they were words that Jesus said to a church. In other words it is possible for people who truly know Jesus to have drifted so far from him that Jesus can picture himself as being shut out of their lives. What a tragic picture – Jesus standing outside the church! But he’s knocking, and offering to come back in, to share friendship with us again. So I wonder whether you sense that you have drifted from Christ? Never fear! If you sense that, it means He’s knocking and calling on you to open the door: “Lord, I am sorry for trying to live life without you. Come in! I need you!”
With love in Christ,