Breaking the Barrier
You might remember that in last week’s sermon we used these two readings, brought to us today by Wendy. We used them to talk about how we are called to knock on the door which Jesus himself unlocks to bring us into his warmth and into his light.
We did this by taking an analogy we often read about in the Bible – that of locks and keys.
Before Jesus came, for many the door between God and man seemed dead-locked from both sides.
God coming to earth in the form of Jesus and now the Spirit of Christ living among us, has unlocked the door for us to enter, but – and this is important – it is now up to us to enter.
Some of us are happy to close the door again and even lock it from our side.
Years ago when studying psychology, I came across a phenomenon where people in long-term chronic pain often choose to remain in pain even when given the opportunity for healing.
The reasons that underlies this desire to stay – comes from an inability to see and experience something unfamiliar and therefore frightening to them.
If pain is all we know – some are happy to remain with the familiar. It becomes a habit, even if it is bad for us.
Understanding this, makes it less difficult to sense why Jesus would say to a cripple, a leper and even a blind man – What do you want me to do for you?
If we think of what it is to be
- locked in,
- locked away, or
- locked up?
We don’t think of doors being opened as we hear about in Luke’s gospel.
Indeed we often associate these phrases with:
- being in prison,
- being held captive
- being enclosed or
- being restricted
from greater surroundings and our full potential.
Therefore it is not just about a physical bondage but an emotional and spiritual bondage as well.
In our Colossians reading Paul warns about the bondage that occurs to our minds, to keep us from Christ.
Colossians 2:8 –
‘See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.’
Later on in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 he repeats the warning –
‘For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what that itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths’.
Similarly we can talk about being locked out – like being locked in or locked up or locked away –we are restricted – but it has a greater element in its usage of being away from/isolated from something or someone. That is, we are not in relationship with all those people we could be.
While we are never excluded from God’s grace, through Jesus, a relationship has to be two-sided for there to be a true relationship.
Barriers, walls and locked doors are something we build ourselves, while Jesus is waiting for us to knock before he takes the sledgehammer to them.
While the medieval pictures of Hell show fire and brimstone and eternal pain – which Matthew’s gospel describes as a fiery furnace – where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
I believe Hell is not so much a place, but a space in our heart – where there is darkness and an absence of God in life and now they find themselves locked out of his presence.
So we need to continually choose to ‘lock on’ to Christ.
To lock on – is to target something, before moving toward it but it is also a term we use to say we are strongly cleaving or clinging or holding onto something or someone.
To be on target for God means as Luke says in verse 4 – we are not led into temptation, but move towards God and in Colossians 2:6 we hold onto God as we are told to ‘continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him’
So then in practical terms, how do we get Jesus – our key to unlock the door and let us in.
Jesus, in Luke’s gospel, gives us the answer :
- consider yourself a friend of God at the door, not his enemy,
- knock– not weakly or half-heartedly or timidly, but loudly and be persistent.
- Pray consistently,
- Seek him with all your might – don’t settle for a relationship that is built on what other people say – but instead on a personal relationship where you can take to Jesus your joys as well as your burdens.
- And finally, the apostle Paul says in Galatians 3:23-25 :
o ‘Before this faith came, we were held prisoners by the law, locked up until faith should be revealed. So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Now faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the Law’.
And as such we need to remember that we are called to break and bondage that keeps us in a gravitational pull to earth and see beyond in faith to the love and grace of a supernatural God. Amen.