A Knock at the Door
About 11 years ago I was driving home from work when a question popped into my mind. I asked myself, “If our family moved out of this neighborhood tomorrow, who would notice? And if they did notice, what would they notice?” We had lived in the neighborhood for just about two years. We had met a few neighbors but nothing of real significance at that point. Given the call that Jesus places on our lives to love the neighbor and to make disciples, this question haunted me. If I were going to truly live out that calling then my actual neighbors should know who we were, what we believed and should be recipients of our love. But where do you begin? Relationships don’t just magically occur overnight. It requires thoughtfulness, intentionality and consistency. So, as we prayed and discussed we came across the annual initiative encouraged by the organization, National Night Out. It’s a nation-wide initiative that promotes safer neighborhoods by having annual block parties. These block parties allow neighbors to meet each other and other key leaders in the community, such as local representatives, law enforcement, fire fighters and others. It seemed like a great place to begin. So this became our focus.
As I looked into further I knew that we would want to get a street closure to limit the drive through traffic on our street. In order to obtain such a closure would require signatures from all of the neighbors nearby. So, here I was, new to the neighborhood and I had to go door-to-door, sharing the idea, extending the invitation and asking for signatures. It was an odd experience at first. We’ve all been at home when we get that random knock on our door by some stranger trying to sell us something. That is rarely a welcomed visit. I knew some people may be really hesitant to even open the door. But I was committed to the idea and set out to meet my neighbors. What really shocked me was how almost every interaction followed a similar pattern. People would look curiously through their door or a nearby window with an unsure look on their face. The expression said it all. “Who is this guy?” was plastered all over their face. Then, following the expression, they would gently crack the door with a timid hello. Another sign of caution and uncertainty. Almost as if it was a faint attempt to keep some form of protection in place by keeping the door between them and me. I would quickly say my name with a very clear explanation, “I’m your neighbor.” I wanted to dispel any notion that they were being sold some new product or service. No sales pitch was waiting on the other side of the door. It was interesting to see the change as soon as that was conveyed. Faces transformed from curious uncertainty to welcoming and friendly. Doors were no longer just cracked but pushed wide open once that relationship was established. It was so interesting how common this pattern emerged with every house I visited.
Overall, I remember being so encouraged at how receptive people were to me and to the idea. I left with a sense that people are longing for community more than we often think. There were maybe two occurrences when the people refused to answer the door at all and just waved good bye through their window. This memory serves as a constant reminder as to how we receive people. It seems that we have this inherent hesitation. We carry this impulse to be cautious and guarded, hesitant to open our doors. I can’t help but think this serves as an appropriate metaphor for our relationship with Jesus. Yesterday we discussed a verse that tells us Jesus stands at the door and knocks. That’s a pretty powerful image when we reflect upon it. I think sometimes we believe answering the door to Jesus is a one-time-thing. Something we do when we make a decision to follow him and pray a prayer. I tend to believe that answering the door is a daily decision. Each and every day Jesus stands at the door of our hearts and knocks. We are faced with a decision if we will invite him in and give ourselves to him. It’s a daily decision.
I say all that to ask, if this metaphor holds true … how are you responding to Jesus standing at the door of your heart? Are you brushing him off from the very beginning? Is there a hesitancy and uncertainty that is influencing you to approach with caution? Are you just barely opening the door ever so slightly? If so, what’s the cause? Maybe it’s a result of recent hardship or doubt. Maybe it’s a fear of what he may ask you to do; a potential disruption to what is comfortable and convenient. Or do you meet the knocking with an enthusiastic welcome and fling the door open wide, ready and eager to receive your Savior? My hope and encouragement to each of you today is to quiet your heart this morning and listen to the knocking of your Savior on the door of your heart. Maybe it’s a faint tapping or a pounding you can’t ignore. But as you listen and are reassured that he stands there, ready to come in and dine with you today, may we set aside our hesitancy and uncertainty and receive him with open arms. Jesus stands at the door and knocks … may we all welcome him in today and experience the fullness of his love. - Jerimiah Smith, Pastor