Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Who's There?

"Look! I stand at the door and I knock" (Rev 3:20)

A brief break in the weather allows us to don our gumboots and tread deeply in the saturated soil. It sucks and yields under out feet and the earthy smell of moss and mold fills the air. Over our heads the clouds swell and darken, this respite will be all too short. I am reminded of a Dutch saying: "If the skies should fall, we shall all be wearing blue "beanies". Used mostly to urge someone not to dwell on the possibility of something negative happening. The present, however sweet or dark is where we are now. The heavens will come down, perhaps sooner rather than later. Not even the angels know the day or time. But what we do know is that it will bring the presence of our risen Saviour, returning in the same victory with which he ascended.

This compels me to ask this question: Am I ready for this? What unconfessed wrongs are there in my heart? Of what do I need to repent or who do I need to forgive to truly receive His forgiveness. These are not easy things to write about. But then I read in 1 Pet 4:17 this morning: "For the time has come for judgement, and it must begin with God's household". Not gentle uplifting words, but nonetheless there for us to receive and believe. I have been postponing it, but felt that it was leading up to this - so please hear my heart.

Jesus is at the door, he is knocking. He says: "If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends... (Rev 3:20). Sharing a meal with Jesus. Will I even be able to stand in His presence? Will I not also, like John, fall at His feet as if dead? But I know even then, He will put his right hand on my head and say : "Don't be afraid! I am the First and the Last. I am the living one. I died, but look -- I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and the grave." (Rev 1:17-18).

As in the words of Mother Basilea Schlink: "Despite failures and defeats, my life (as bride of Christ) can be marked by victory, the love of Jesus guarantees that."

We live in a time of closed doors. Jesus stands outside and says: "I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot or cold. I wish that you were one or the other. But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot not cold, I will spit you out of my mouth!"  The sad truth is that He is not talking to the unbelievers, He is standing outside our church doors, benches filled with people, their hearts longing for the warmth of a fellow-believer, a soothed conscience and comfort gained from a human voice rather than His Spirit and truth. For either we love Jesus with an undivided heart, or we do not love Him in truth. When He says: "You do not realise that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, he is not addressing beggars or outcasts. He is crying out to His bride - the church. Particularly in our sin and "wretchedness", the bride of Jesus discovers who the Bridegroom is: Love and nothing but love, full of compassion for us in our weaknesses.

He says to her (the bride): "I advise you to buy gold that has been refined by fire. Then you will be rich. Also buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness. Clothed in righteousness, we will long for his coming and with ointment for your eyes, we will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So, be diligent and turn from your indifference.
And finally: Anyone with ears to hear, must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches." (Rev 3:15-22).

So how do I turn from indifference? By returning to the cross, in full realisation of my wretched and miserable state. And then that "nasty" word: "Repent of your sins and turn to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near."(Matthew 3:2) "Repentance implies sorrow for past offences, a deep sense of the evil of sin as committed against God, and a full purpose to turn from transgression and to lead a holy life. A true penitent has sorrow for sin, not only because it is ruinous to his soul, but chiefly because it is an offence against God, and is that abominable thing which he hates. It is produced by seeing the great danger and misery to which it exposes us; by seeing the justice and holiness of God;  and by seeing that our sins have been committed against Christ, and were the cause of his death" (Barnes' notes on the Bible).

My sins were the cause of Jesus' death and suffering! That alone is enough to yank me from a place of indifference to numb shock. We know that we are forgiven, but are we truly saved? Saved from ourselves, our ego's, our worldliness, our indifference...? I suddenly realise that I write this more for myself than anyone else. Tears flow down my cheeks as I type in a blurr. I read recently: "Nothing is more needful than the discovery of sin, and a conviction that we cannot be saved by our own righteousness. Curiosity, and love for novelty and variety, may bring many to attend a good preaching, and to be affected for a while. Only when we are filled with sorrow and shame to our own guilt, are are we ready to receive Jesus Christ as our righteousness". Jesus' suffering did not end at the cross. As He looks down at a depraved, rushed and content humanity, His own children falling away from their calling, His heart all but breaks.

I really do want to conclude with sweet words of inspiration or a promise. But this is where the Holy Spirit calls me to a halt. Heb 12:14 reminds us that anyone who tolerates their sins, and have grown accustomed to them, soothing his conscience with the thought that Jesus is sure to forgive him, will never reach the goal, the City of God...  Jesus says: "Look, I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of prophesy written in this book" (Rev 21:7). "I Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star". (Rev 21:16)

"Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!"

1 comment:

  1. As usual thought prevocing and beautiful EJ