Saturday, December 29, 2012

Occupants of Cells Without an Exit

"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

Tyler Stevenson commenting on how our consumeristic culture has impacted the very way we interpret texts such as this one:

"The popular treatment of this passage demonstrates the degree to which consumerism has co-opted Christianity. In most treatments of this passage that I have encountered, we are led to imagine Jesus standing on the front stoop of the mansions of our lives. The moment of conversion in this depiction is that glorious moment when we deign to let him in, that salvific Fuller Brush man or Mary Kay rep who stands ready to make the sale that will change our lives. But this understanding is an inversion of reality. The one who crosses your threshold in such a case will not be the Lord but a Brand Jesus pitch-man. The real, living Lord does not wander the scorched suburbs of our reality, a lonely figure trooping door to door in search of those houses that could use a spiritual sprucing up.

Rather, in reality, we are occupants of cells that have no exit-no exit that is, until his knock makes a door where before there was none. Our lives are not six billion points of reference between which he wanders; no, he is the one point of reference onto which all doors open. And his invitation to 'come in and eat with' us and we 'with him' is not the plaintive wish of one begging for scraps, but the offer of a minister offering to share a meal with a condemned person in his or her cell. Jesus offers to come into our lives, not because our lives are his proper place, but because his life is ours-and until he enters, we cannot be led out into the Kingdom of God."

Just take the two pictures Stevenson paints, and ask yourself which one is more beautiful. The first picture being of the proud man who makes much of himself because of the what he has accumulated. This man views Jesus, the Lord of Glory, as just another important accessory to add to his mansion of possessions, accolades, and piety. Jesus is just a way to boost the spiritual component of his life.

Or take the prisoner. He has no exit to his cell. He doesn't have much, if anything to his name. His life has a lot of regrets; certainly he has done things he is not proud of. But, he is real with his brokenness. He doesn't wear a mask behind which he can boast. No, he is a sinner; a broken man in need. To this man, Jesus means much. To this man, Jesus is real. He another accessory to add onto his already stacked life. No, Jesus is everything to this man. 

I don't say this to condemn physical possessions, but rather to point out the spiritual reality of pride vs. humility. There is a reason Jesus said, "it is easier for a camel to enter through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of God" (Matthew 19:24). God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. The proud man makes much of  himself. The humble man makes much of Christ. 

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