In the movies it always looked so easy and nonconsequential. As a kid, I watched shows where chairs got busted over heads in barroom fights with the recipient merely staggering a few paces before flinging his opponent through a wooden railing. And then there were the scenes where a medium-built man with a single blow from his leg kicked a front door wide open. And he never walked with a limp afterwards or stopped to rub the jolted knee or hip joint. Power. It all seemed impressively real until the day I picked up a chair in anger to throw at my brother. Besides being too heavy (fortunately) to lift high enough to toss, I was instantly sobered up with the realization that if the chair did break apart on his head, it would likely kill him. I didn’t even have to experiment with kicking a door to realize that it would take someone with a lot more strength than me to pop a solid oak barrier off its hinges with one swing of the leg.
And yet there is someone with “door-busting” abilities that we should all take notice of.
Jesus began His earthly ministry kicking down obstacles that were raised against Him and His purposes. He ordered demonic interference to be silent and flee. He commanded stormy waters to be calm, unfruitful trees to wither, diseases to leave human bodies, and corpses to come back to life. Nobody had ever displayed such power over nature, physical ailments, spiritual darkness, and death. Nothing seemed to be able to stand in His way. He was truly the archetype man of the movies I pictured as a kid who could not be stopped, no matter what was thrown at Him, no matter the barrier in front of Him. Nothing resisted His will . . . except for one thing.
The Human Heart
The Bible tells the story of a rich young man coming to Jesus seeking eternal life (Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 10:17-27). Jesus told him what he needed to do. The man responded by turning and walking away, sad, but refusing to obey. And Jesus let him go. He didn’t command the man to stop. He didn’t call on angels to grab and bind the man and force him to submit. The Almighty Son of God meekly let the man’s own choice stand. And this was His pattern when dealing with people. But why would Jesus, who displayed such power and force in other circumstances, step back from bending a human will to submit to His own?
Our sovereign God’s interplay with the human will remains a mystery to me. Whereas the scriptures are clear that His will in the end will be done, yet He does not coerce, manipulate, or override an individual’s volition to accomplish what He has determined to do. With humans, He waits. Winning our hearts is His goal. An actual love relationship with each of us appears to be His highest priority and the reason He’s given us this ability to choose (read Choosing to Choose).
Operating by Invitation
Revelation 3:20 provides a simple but provocative picture of how the Almighty interacts with us. Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
Interestingly, according to the context, this verse is addressed to His followers. It seems that even those who claim to be “believers” have a tendency to keep Jesus at a distance. The “door” is the human heart. Jesus has the power to kick it off its hinges, march in, rearrange the contents, tear down walls, and do whatever He wants. Yet, He knocks and waits. He dignifies every individual by honoring the self-governing authority instilled in each soul. His desire is to come in and share an intimate meal together and build a cooperative, loving relationship. But the choice is always left to each of us regarding how we respond to the knocking. It can be rightly said that Jesus, even arrayed with His glorified heavenly power and authority is still a gentleman.
What does this mean for us?
Personally, I have come to see all the kindness and goodness experienced in my life, despite my own blind and selfish behavior, to be His way of wooing me to open up even more to Him. I have had to choose to believe that He is good no matter what I see or don’t see at any given moment. I have had to choose to not let the fear of being abused or controlled keep my door sealed shut. I can choose to unbolt it and disengage the different locks installed in the attempt to provide for my own security. The only way He is going to get into my heart is if I let Him in. He wants to connect at a deeper level and enjoy a meal together. But my biggest issue is that I don’t always recognize the sound of His gentle tapping.
It’s difficult to notice Jesus at the door of my heart when I am consumed with other things. I often don’t hear the knock when I’m struggling with guilt and shame, and I find myself alone in a dark corner. The rapping on the outside of the door is often drowned out by the booming drum of unforgiveness within and the shrill horn of accusations against others. And there are those many occasions that I’m simply not wanting His input into what I’m doing, turning up the volume of my headphones of self-centered satisfaction. But it always means that I miss out on that life-giving meal that provides connection, clarity, and hope that He so faithfully gives when I open the door wide and invite Him in.
Like my old-time movie heroes, Jesus is the One who has the strength to kick down any door. But He will always wait for an invitation. Because, that’s just who He is. And when He is allowed inside, new life and hope for tomorrow are always the results.
Don’t leave Him standing outside.