In the movies it always looked so easy and nonconsequential. As a kid, I watched shows where chairs were busted over heads in barroom fights, the recipient merely staggering a few paces before flinging his opponent through a wooden railing. In addition there were the scenes where a medium-built man 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 above my head to toss, I was instantly sobered 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 overpowering (or “kicking down”) obstacles that were raised against Him and His purposes. He ordered demonic interference to be silent and flee. He commanded stormy wind and water to be calm, unfruitful trees to wither, diseases to leave human bodies, and corpses to come back to life. No human had ever displayed such might over nature, physical ailments, spiritual darkness, and death. Nothing could stand in His way. Truly, He was the archetype man of the movies that caught my imagination as a kid. He 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 who came 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 did not command the man to stop. He did not call on angels to grab, bind, and force him to submit. The Almighty Son of God meekly let the man’s choice stand. And this was the pattern He held to when dealing with people. But why would Jesus, who displayed such power and forcefulness in other circumstances, step back from bending a human will to submit to His own?
Our sovereign God’s interplay with human choices 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 has 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 entrance into 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 it requires that He risk rejection. The choice of how to respond to His knocking is always left to each of us. It can be rightly said that Jesus, even arrayed with His glorified heavenly power and authority, is still a gentleman who honors the ability God has given us to choose.
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 do not 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 am the one who must choose to unbolt it and disengage the locks I have installed as an attempt to provide 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 do not always recognize the sound of His gentle tapping.
It is difficult to notice Jesus at the door of my heart when I am consumed with other things. I often do not hear the knock when I am struggling with guilt or shame and 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 am simply not wanting His input, 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.
Beyond even my old-time movie heroes, Jesus is the One who has the strength to kick down any door. Yet He will always wait for an invitation. Because, that is just who He is. And when He is allowed inside, and given permission to rearrange the furniture (and even throw out a few toxic things), new life and hope for tomorrow are always the results.
Do not leave Him standing outside. Give Him the invitation He is longing to receive!
(Edited and reposted from June 7, 2021)