The last book of the Bible is called Revelation. As a Christian who has been around for a while, I’ve heard a verse from chapter 3 quoted many times. It reads like this, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20; NIV). In Bibles that use red ink, these words are printed in red, signifying that Jesus Christ himself actually speaks these words. When preachers or teachers quote this verse, they most often speak of this statement from Jesus as an invitation to the nonbeliever to take an initial step toward belief in Jesus as the Messiah who came to save all who believe and put their trust in Him.
But there is so much more truth here to be grasped.
This statement is a daily invitation to have an on-going personal relationship with God that transforms your life beyond initial conversion. Deeper love, greater peace, and unending happiness are not automatic for the Christ-follower. Allowing God to change our hearts from the inside out on a continual basis is the primary message of, “I stand at the door and knock.” Our inner person is the door keeper. Our mind is used to hear his voice, and our heart is used to open the door. Our thoughts control what we focus on, and our will determines our actions.
In order to hear, we must learn how to listen. To hear God’s voice, we must separate from distractions, and focus on listening (and not listen to other voices). Hearing the right voice can be a challenge of its own, but that isn’t enough. We must “open the door.” Opening the door always involves some degree of surrender. Surrendering thoughts, wishes, hopes, dreams, desires, judgments, etc., not begrudgingly, but as an exchange for the better food at the table of the Lord. The Lord will “eat with that person,” who has heard his voice, and opened the door of welcome into his soul. The food is great at the Lord’s table (see Psalm 23). Picture yourself eating at the table with a king in his palace. It doesn’t compare to the feast of the Lord. No earthly feast can come close to what it means to eat in the presence of God. Life with God takes us beyond our natural experience.
This understanding of the Revelation 3:20 is made even clearer by reading several verses in context before it. “These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent” (Revelation 3:14-19). Then it is said, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20). We have a stern warning here against thinking we are “rich.” What is meant here is not so much in terms of rich in material resources, but the condition of mind and heart. Rich may mean a wealth of knowlege. Knowledge of the Bilbe, theology, and sound doctrine do not equate to ability in hearing the voice of the Lord and opening one’s heart to Him. Hanging out with Christians or being raised in a Christian family also doesn’t qualify as rich in the kingdom of heaven. Good works and community service also doesn’t count. Nothing in terms of human effort with save us from our “wretched” condition. Our assurance of victory over this condition can only be based in the work of God’s Son Jesus coming to earth as a man, dying on a Cross, ascending back into heaven, and leaving us with the Holy Spirit to live inside us. The Holy Spirit enables and empowers us to hear God’s voice and open the door to nourishing meals of God’s blessings.
God’s counsel is to “buy from me gold.” That is, we must “buy into” (as the saying goes) God’s ways, and forsake our own. Becoming poor may mean giving up some long held beliefs that simply aren’t true. We all have blind spots to our own selfish ways. Continually surrendering our thoughts, emotions, and actions to God is a refining process that burns away the impurities and results in a life more deeply devoted to seeing God glorified in the world. Anything that keeps us from embracing this process of inner person change must be thrown into the fire. Surrender to the flames the demand to control our own fate.
Today, Jesus is saying, be honest and repent. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (Revelation 3:20).
The two verses following Revelation 3:20 read, “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 3:21-22). It may seem a little backwards, but surrender is actually the way to victory. And the more we surrender, the greater victory we have available.
Where might your “wealth” of knowledge, self-will, or accomplishments be keeping you from feasting more lavishly with God? Are you hearing God’s voice? What might be keeping you from hearing his voice more clearly than you are right now? Have you opened the door? Are you willing to leave the door open for him and give him unlimited access? Do you want more of the King’s food in your diet? My prayer is that you are able to feast and enjoy the table of the Lord in greater measure each day he has ordained for you on the earth.
by Ed Hersh, Blue Rock BnB Healing Ministry