“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.” (Rev. 3:20)
The story is told of a little old lady who went to a local church, near where she lived, desiring to become a member of the congregation. At the end of the day’s homily, when the invitation was given, she went forward to make her desire known publicly. The pastor listened intently as she told him how she had accepted Jesus and wanted to be baptized as a testimony of her new found faith. She also testified how she had determined that her remaining days would be spent for the Lord in her service to the church and humankind.
Although the pastor was listening, he was not hearing her testimony because all the while he was concentrating on her outward appearance.
True, she was unkempt, even she had some funny odor; and her fingernails were not clean. For her daily bread, she picks up garbage, cleans toilets and such odd jobs so that she would not steal or die of starvation. “What would the members think of her?” he asked himself. Finally, he told her that she needed to go home and pray about it and then decide.
The following week, she came again and told the pastor that she prayed all week long about it. Not knowing when her time on earth would be due, she wanted to serve the Lord as much as remains breath in her. She told him how she had lived in the area for some time and would love to join such a church for many reasons, especially as she lived nearby.
Again the pastor told her to go home and pray some more. She was a little bit discouraged, not to talk of her frustration, and went home really feeling bad, and wondered why the pastor would continue to delay her being accepted into the body of Christ. Joining the physical body of Christ was so different and difficult than it was for her to join the spiritual body. As soon as she believed in the Lord Jesus Christ and invited Him into her life, she could almost feel the immediate glow of God’s love as if God was telling her she had been accepted.
When she got home, she prayed, almost nonchalantly, but because of her fervent desire, she asked the Lord to tell her what she should do. To her surprise, as she was praying, she fell asleep and dreamt and saw Jesus who told her that He had heard her heart desires and that she should not bother herself with going to the church again because even He Himself had been trying for many years to get in but had not yet been given the welcome He needed to feel at home there. Then Jesus directed Him to a little church where no one would ever think God was present, and told her He is the Director there.
After some weeks, when the other pastor was coming back from bowling, he saw the little lady. At first he wanted to avoid her; but on a second thought, he greeted her, asking if all was well with her, and that he had not been seeing her for some weeks. The old lady replied him with the glow of glory and life in her being because of the true fellowship she was enjoying in her new church and said, “Yes, all is well with me. I went to pray as you directed me, and the Lord told me not to worry about becoming a member of your church. He told me even He too, has been trying to get into your church for some years but has not been able yet.”
Beloved, this may be only a story, but it graphically illustrates what some yearning souls are experiencing in their quest to get closer to God. As the body of Christ, we have the responsibility of helping as many seeking souls out here to get into the fold. Some times hindrances are placed in the path of such seekers in various ways as we shall try to identify below. The truth is that we need to be very careful, because we shall give account of such souls to the Master, if eventually they are prevented from following the Lord.
While it is not possible to mention all here, we shall attempt to mention a few. Such hindrances could come in the form of
The story above gives a classical example of class selection beginning with the minister himself. He had a picture of what a good member of his congregation should look like; and once an individual gets out of that mould, he or she is not accepted. This is not right. Christ is the One Who died for His Church. He died for both the poor and the rich. He died for both the beautiful and the ugly (if there is anyone ugly, since he or she too, was created by God, Who created everyone in His own image) If you begin to indicate that someone is ugly, you are actually judging yourself, by accusing God of not knowing the way to do His things right.
Have you ever created a beautiful person? Not until then, you have no right to determine whether someone is ugly or not. Do not forget also that beauty is determined by the beholder. Whom you determine to be beautiful may not be in the sight of another person. Consequently, whom you think is ugly is as beautiful as the most gorgeous lady or person (according to you), in the sight of God!
Another area in this section is related to finances. Some churches go for the financially well-to-do individuals or families, and do not want to be bothered by the needy. When a poor person comes into the congregation, he/she is not well received as the rich and affluent. Consequently, the individual observes the sidelining and drops out of the church.
Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ came for both the rich and the poor. In fact, I would believe He loved the poor more than the rich, because they showed Him more love. That is not to say that He did not love the rich, because in the first place, He gave them the riches they claim to have. So, if you are rich materially, and do not use it to glorify God in His church but rather look down on those who are financially not well to do today, remember that He who gave you the riches today may give it to whosoever He wills any time. Since what you have now really comes to you from Him, you may not have it tomorrow. Now that you have it, use it to glorify Him, so that He will continue to give you more.
The issue of differences in race is a hot spot when it comes to the devil’s methods of separating the people of God. It is pathetic to realize that even among so-called born-again children of God, sometimes race tends to make them speak or act the way they would not have!
Amongst people of the same country, the enemy uses tribal relations to separate the body of Christ. Amongst the nations in the same continent, he uses cultural disparity. In the international circles, he uses both national and economical viability to make the stronger look down on the developing countries. It would have been thinkable if it had remained in the secular sector. But this has gradually crept into the body of Christ, frustrating the doctrine of human equality before God.
There is nothing we can do, however, other than to abide by what God had ordained, if we would please Him. On the day of Pentecost, ALL the peoples and races around heard the gospel preached in their own tongues. That tells me that He welcomes all people alike, and by the blood He shed on the cross, all races, all peoples, all classes could come under His umbrella without any fear of being intimidated into a lesser class or caste!
Another lethal weapon the enemy is using against the family of God is a holier-than-thou attitude. Within the body of Christ, every member is useful. I don’t care if you are the door keeper, floor sweeper or feet washer. Whatever portion the Lord feels will enable you to serve Him well for your “one penny” wage (see Matt. 20:1-16), He gives you the grace to carry out. He did not give any one a particular gift or ministry because such a person deserves or earns it. This fact should humble us to the extent that we would prefer rather to die, than to usurp the glory that rightly belongs to God, by exalting ourselves in an unbecoming manner.
I have thought about this sometime. If I were Christ, or you were Christ, what would have been our attitude or reaction, for every one to be calling us by name without according any titles or form of special respect? Some ministers loath being called by their names without their titles first in place. This is nothing but spiritual pride. It is not the title that will determine our rewards. It is your accomplishment within the body of Christ.
Some members of the body of Christ who happen to be blessed with some gifts see others as sinners, or not as holy as they are. If not so, they would have been as gifted as they are, they reason. Hogwash. The woman who silently prays in her closet and makes no fuss about it will be as rewarded as the world evangelist she prays for, and miracles happen all
block over the place. Even though the world may not recognize her, yet, heaven is taking perfect record of her works.
I want us to consider Christ’s invitation as quoted in Rev. 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.”
Remember that Christ was not speaking to ‘unbelievers’ here. He was talking to the “angels of the churches” (Rev. 3: 14). He was talking to those who might have thought they labored for Christ in His vineyard all their lives; whereas He told them, “…I never knew you…” (Matt. 7:21-23). And so, if you have not given your heart to Jesus to reign over your life and destiny, He is earnestly knocking at your door, pleading: I want to be your Friend and Lord. Please let Him in.
If you have given Him your life but realize you have not been walking with Him in holiness and purity, He is knocking at your door. If He has called you into the ministry but you have not been fully dedicated to His service, He is knocking at the door of your heart. Please for your sake and souls’ sake, let Him in. Let Him in TODAY while it is not yet late. Tomorrow may be too late; for no one is promised another minute. Do it today, do it now.
May God help you to stay true to His calling on your life, Amen.
Rev. Dr. Samuel Abraham