The British artist, Holman Hunt, produced a painting in 1853 that hangs today in the chapel at Oxford University. It’s called “Jesus the Light of the World” and portrays Jesus knocking on a door with no visible latch while holding a lantern in his other hand. Hunt based his painting on the word of Christ in Revelation 3: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man will hear my voice and open the door, I will come in and dine with him and he with me” (v. 20).
“I painted the picture with what I thought, unworthy though I was, to be by Divine command, and not simply as a good subject,” Hunt said. “The door in the painting has no handle, and can therefore be opened only from the inside, representing the obstinately shut mind.”
The painting has been updated by many artists over the years, while keeping the main idea of Mr. Hunt that Jesus calls out and knocks desiring entrance into our lives.
I can imagine that this verse, and this image, have been used by most of us evangelical preachers when we implore men and women to open the door of their hearts and allow Jesus to do his work of regeneration. Whether we call it “being saved,” “obeying the gospel” or being “born again,” the idea remains the same. Jesus, a gentleman, will not storm his way into our lives. He comes by personal invitation where he’s welcomed.
However, the sobering original word in Revelation is directed to the church of Laodicea. How striking to think of Jesus outside his church, knocking and wanting to come in. What an indictment that worship might not include the Lord of the church!
Worship has nothing to do with noise, although some well-intentioned pastors see themselves as cheerleaders. “Let all the world keep silence” is in the Bible, too (Habakkuk 2:20). Nor does meaningful worship necessarily mandate movement. A popular cartoon a dozen years ago portrayed an usher asking two newcomers, “Clapping, or non-clapping?” I suppose for many of our congregations this issue has been settled, but now some churches encourage “liturgical movement,” or dancing while singing hymns. While this is a matter for individual congregations to decide, the old adage is true: “It’s not how high we jump, but how straight we walk when we hit the ground!”
Inviting Jesus into our churches is actually surrender to his will in all things. We must never close the door on the Lord of the church by doing what we think best. He’s the head of the body, his church, and we must always seek his will and his honor in what we do (Ephesians 5:23).
Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster. The church's website is siluriabaptist.com.