The readings on which this sermon is based can be found at
s186g04 Lockleys Sunday 19 8/8/04
"open the door .. as soon as he .. knocks" Luke 12.36
I recall learning very early on in my ministry that God is the perfect gentleperson; God waits to be invited in. God standing at the door and knocking means that God treats each and every person with respect, especially those who do not acknowledge the divine. If we are to accurately reflect this truth of God to others, we too will have to exercise a goodly deal of patience, especially those who do not call themselves Christians. Or to put it the other way, if we get impatient with others we are likely to be proclaiming a god rather different than the one we (sort of) profess.
God stands and knocks. God does not need our knuckles to do this. Indeed if we think that it is our job to knock on doors for God, we may well fail to hear the gentle tapping on our own. Last Sundays epistle reading ended with the words "Christ is all and in all!" (Col 3.11) so we do not "take Christ" to anyone. In every human and mutual interaction, from physical intimacy to chance conversations between otherwise strangers, the risen Christ is present in each person.
God stands at the door and knocks. God does not pound on the door, and doesn't need us to use our fists to beat the truth into others. Indeed, rather than our fists, God needs our "other cheek".
I said some weeks ago that God is a paedophile. God loves and respects children. Child molesters do not love or respect their victims. I have realised that this is why I would continue to support the baptism of babies; for it magnifies the seriousness of the offence of molesting any child of God, baptised or not.
If we treat anyone with less than this sort of respect, then we are treating Christ with less than the appropriate respect.
The task and the joy of every human interaction is to find the presence of the risen Lord in those we meet. Of course we may well see the risen Christ in people when they do not see it themselves. This is when it will be really good news for them. But it will not just be them who are encouraged by our perception, but we too ought and will be encouraged by seeing the risen Christ in another person. Clearly, if Christ is in all, we have endless opportunities to find Christ about us, each and every day. Our pilgrimage in life can be one of continual excitement.
Mind you, the opposite is equally true. If we fail to see the risen Christ in others, God will not force us, and we can just as easily lead a very dreary existence indeed.
God respects even children, therefore God respects you and me. This is the essence of standing at the door and knocking. God waits to be invited in, because we are already being who we should be, and doing what we should do. There is no essential need for God to intervene in our lives; for God is primarily concerned with our relationships with others, not our relationship with the divine.
Of course God would be quite able to remove the door if that was what was needed. God is the creator of the whole universe. One measly door is not going to thwart the purposes of the divine. The gospel accounts tell us that the risen Christ is well able to enter those places that are locked up for fear.
The door being opened to God is not what is needed. The door open to others is what God would want. Christ is well able to penetrate those places where we hide ourselves; afraid of him, or afraid of others.
Indeed Christ came to break down the walls between people, especially those erected in the name of God. It was those who wanted those walls to remain that had him crucified. So, by definition, Christianity is without walls.
Jesus didn't come to replace one wall with another. Jesus came to be the door, and every door subverts the purpose of the wall.
We can begin to see that perhaps the wall that we thought was of divine origin, is in fact something we have constructed ourselves. And God gently knocks on this door, and the door is Christ.
It is those who spend their lives trying to change others, who are likely to find all sorts of obstacles in their way. Even if we try to change others in the name of God, so that they become Christians like us, I suspect that we will be eternally disappointed; as they choose to remain Christians like themselves. :-) !
Back to: "A Spark of the Spirit"