What did Jesus mean when He said, 'I stand at the door and knock' (Revelation 3:20)?
Revelation 3:20 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." This verse is commonly used as an example of Jesus seeking out non-believers, which He certainly does: "For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost" (Luke 19:10). In this particular verse, however, Jesus is seeking out people within the church.
Revelation 2—3 contains letters to seven churches, and the letters are filled with exhortations for each respective church in what it needs. The last letter is to the church at Laodicea. The church of Laodicea had become lukewarm in their faith, to the point that they had forgotten about the Lord Himself.
Because their material needs were met, the Laodiceans no longer felt the need to seek God. Self-assured and comfortable, they were not bearing any fruit in the kingdom of God. Jesus had this message for them: "I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked" (Revelation 3:15–17).
Jesus called the church to turn in their false righteousness and instead to commit to genuine righteousness, which, for starters, requires the church to "be zealous and repent" (Revelation 3:19). We are not made righteous on our own; the Bible makes this clear. We are made righteous by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 3:24–25; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 2:1–10).
In verse 20, Jesus stands at the door of the church, seeking entry — into the church as a whole and also into the individuals' hearts within the church. He wants them to experience the true salvation that leads to transformation. Whether a true believer, or merely one who claims to be a believer, any person can get so comfortable that they neglect Christ for the sake of maintaining their own comfortable version of Christianity. As believers, this is something we must all always stay alert to so that we may be in Christ and bearing fruit in His kingdom. Our full dependence needs to be on Christ (Philippians 3:8–9).
Jesus promised close fellowship by using the metaphor of sharing a meal with those who would open the door, and then He said: "The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne" (Revelation 3:21).
This example may be from the Bible, but how much does it sound like some churches and believers in today's world? Jesus was knocking on the door of a church whose members probably thought He was already inside. A casual version of Christianity is all too easy to fall into. Ask yourself the following questions: 1) "Am I in regular fellowship with the Lord?" and 2) "Am I being convicted in ways I need to grow in Him so that I may bear more fruit?" If your answer is "no," Jesus is still saying: "I stand at the door and knock." His words continue to ring true today. He desires the fullness of relationship with us.
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