So says the risen Lord Jesus to a small outpost congregation called Philadelphia. Although they are described as having ‘little strength’ they have been faithful to their Lord and He is encouraging them with promises of vindication, protection and opportunity. Just as this young city had been successful in spreading Greek culture to the region, the church there was now being called to share the Gospel.
Jesus is using an illustration from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah in which a corrupt official is replaced with one more trustworthy who is given royal authority to administer the Treasury. In John’s Gospel Jesus refers to Himself as the ‘good Shepherd' and the ‘door’ or ‘gate’ for His flock by which they can graze freely and safely.
Together these images give great comfort and assurance of provision in effective service, as long as God’s people humbly and prayerfully welcome the opportunities He offers to us.
I was once visiting a house where people closed a door to limit noise from the next room only to find the door was stiff and wouldn’t open again. There ensued a comic scene of several family members pushing and pulling before we could all be released!
After a good laugh we chatted about how we can sometimes ‘close the door on ourselves’ and limit our opportunities with negative attitudes and emotions. In the attached video we see how in many parts of the world others are trying with cruelty and violence to close Christianity down. We shouldn't help by self-destructive behaviour!
I’m reading in the book of Acts at the moment how members of the 1st century Church were initially limited in their thinking by common social restrictions and often surprised by the ‘wideness’ of God’s mercy.
Jesus welcomed and valued women, really? Children? OK…
Apparently so, and we mustn’t close by our fears or narrowmindedness a door which He in grace has opened.
Some years ago I was taking part in street outreach late at night. Standing under a brightly lit gazebo we gave out free tea and coffee and chatted with anyone who stopped by. It was there one night I overheard a man tell his friend on the phone, ‘We’re here in the square beside the ‘Jesus-loves-everyone tent.’
That still makes me smile. It feels right and good.
For while Jesus calls us to turn from our sins, with Him there are always new opportunities, for life, love, joy.
He sets before us an open door.
Let’s use it!