My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Over the past few months, I have used my column to reflect on the first step of discipleship: discovering Jesus. I shared my story of discovering Jesus and invited you to consider how Jesus has been present in your own life. Last month, I used the example of Mother Teresa to explore what it means to be a friend of Jesus and accept the love that he offers us every day. I hope that my words have provided encouragement for you to open your life more to the love of God and grow more deeply in your friendship with Jesus.
As we begin to take these first steps, at some point we find ourselves faced with a decision to make – either we accept Jesus as our Lord and commit to following him, or we turn away from him, making something or someone else (often ourselves) the center of our lives. Facing this decision can be a bit scary, but we must remember that Jesus will never force us into a relationship.
One of my favorite paintings is based on Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” The painting, which has been reproduced by many artists, shows Jesus standing outside a home, knocking on the front door. What is surprising is that there is no door knob on the outside of the door. According to art historians, the painter depicted this as a way to show that Jesus will never violate a person’s free will. Only the person inside the home can open the door to let Christ in. What a beautiful depiction of Christ’s gentleness and patience with us!
So what are we to do when we hear Christ knocking at the door of our heart? Sometimes it can be tempting to pretend we’re not home. After all, inviting Jesus in means that we are willing to give up control and that can be pretty unsettling for us. What if Jesus wants to rearrange the furniture? Or what if Jesus doesn’t like the same TV shows that I like? What if Jesus asks me to do something that I don’t want to do?
In some ways, these concerns are legitimate. When Jesus enters into our lives, we are faced with the truth that not all of our decisions are good for us. Recognizing this truth means that we will need to make some changes and this can be difficult to accept.
But before you ignore Christ’s knock, remember why Jesus wants to be part of your life in the first place. Jesus doesn’t want to change you, he wants to love you. Sometimes, out of love, Jesus calls us to recognize how certain choices we make cause pain and hurt. But even in revealing our brokenness, Jesus will always walk patiently with us. And more importantly, Jesus will offer his healing love to transform the areas of our lives that are broken.
So Jesus is waiting for you to accept his invitation; to receive his love into your heart; to be your best friend and Savior. If you have been putting him off, or just cannot believe that God would love you that much, humble yourself and ask him in the silence of your own room. Now is the time.
Ask Jesus to make himself known to you personally, ask him to touch your heart in some way so that you know through personal experiences that he is real! He is alive! He cares about you deeply. He wants to save you from the slavery to sin and self-interest and give you a new life, filled with love, peace and joy!
I pray that each of us may hear the knock of Christ in our lives today and open the door to his love, peace and joy!
Follow Bishop Ricken on Twitter at @BpDavidRicken.