The Church that Shut the Door in the Face of Jesus
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock…”– Revelation 3:20A
Probably one of the most misused scripture references in God’s Word is the familiar text above. Many have used this particular verse as a tool in witnessing to lost people. Pastors and evangelists have frequently referred to this verse in an attempt to encourage lost people to trust Christ and be saved. They do so by explaining that Jesus is knocking at the door of their heart, asking to come into life. While it is vitally important we explain to lost people that the Lord desires to come into their heart and life, it is just as important that we make sure we use the right passages of scripture to do so (Romans 3:10, 23, 6:23, 5:8, 10:9, 13, Ephesians 2:8-9). In witnessing you must use the right tools, and to use Revelation 3:20 for evangelistic purposes is like using a wrench for a hammer. You see, further study of this passage reveals that Jesus actually spoke these penetrating words to Christians, not lost people. Specifically, He was speaking to the local church at Laodicea, one of the seven churches of Asia Minor addressed in the opening chapters of the book of Revelation.
So now that we know Jesus’ intended audience was a church, I suppose the next question that comes to mind is why would our Lord speak these sobering words to believers in the first place? It seems bizarre that Jesus would request entrance into one of His own churches. I mean in essence He was saying, “Open the door and let me back in!” First, we must understand the condition of this particular church. If ever there was a congregation marred with mediocrity, and inundated with unresponsiveness it was the lethargic Laodicean church. They had become satisfied with the norm, and were more interested in maintaining rather than ministering. And while they lazily swam in the lukewarm waters of half-heartedness, our Lord Jesus lovingly confronted them about their sin. Speaking with a broken heart, He made it clear that they had gradually closed the door in His face; because of this, He was standing on the outside, knocking on the door to come back in.
Unfortunately, this describes many churches today. By turning the key of compromise, they have gradually opened the door to ministry mediocrity. Instead of offering God their best, they gave God their leftovers. And by doing so, they have inadvertently snuffed out the permeating presence of Jesus. Oh how I pray that by understanding the entire story behind this familiar verse helps you see the value of its original meaning. This is why misuse of a text or veering scripture off its intended meaning poses such a grave danger. It is an arrogant thing to isolate passages of scripture and separate them from its original context. Remember, as stewards of God’s Word, we are to accurately handle the Word of Christ (2 Timothy 2:15).
But let’s get back to the church at Laodicea; Jesus followed up His piercing statement with a bit of positive and encouraging news. He says, “If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me (Revelation 3:20B).” In other words, the church that had shut the door in the face of Jesus (and any wayward believer for that matter) could experience restoration, be blessed, and brought into right fellowship with Him. Aren’t you glad that our Lord offers forgiveness and restoration? That means that no matter what you’ve done, you can be made right with Him! My dear friend; if these things describe you, I urge you to reopen your door to the Lord, and then wedge the doorstop of God’s forgiveness under your door.
– Pastor Eric