The Spiritual Significance of Doors (Part 1) February 08 2020
(Part of BCF’S blog series: “Society, Selflessness, and the Scriptures")
The idea of “doors” might seem like an obscure topic, but I’ve recently been experimenting with holding doors open for people. It’s amazing how such a simple act almost always evokes gratitude and sometimes opens up opportunities for conversation. An interesting part of this experiment is knowing how far behind someone has to be before it’s “too far” to wait for them to get there. So I’ve been stretching the limits a bit and have observed that many people start walking very quickly or even running when they are farther behind, like they don’t want to inconvenience you. But they nevertheless appreciate the thought.
Admittedly, it is also tempting not to hold the door open, when you know that the person you let in might get in line before you, such as at a bank or a restaurant. Holding a door open is viewed almost universally as an act of kindness, and is perhaps less expected than it once was.
Down through the centuries, doors have been used for privacy, security, and protection against the elements. But it turns out that the concept of a door has also been used as a metaphor for many different things. In fact, the first use of the word translated “door” in the English Bible is actually a metaphor: God says to Cain in Genesis 4:7 “And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door ….” The concept of a door has been with us from the very beginning.
In this blog post, we will look at the “door of salvation” through Christ. One of the best known and most endearing biblical passages about doors is John 10:1-11. The passage begins with Jesus contrasting the true “shepherd of the sheep,” (who comes into the sheepfold through the door), with the one who “climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.” It says of the true shepherd, “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
The people were not understanding what Jesus meant by this, so He explained further:
This is one of the ultimate passages of hope in the Scriptures, and it was a foretelling of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, though the people didn’t recognize it at the time. We have the advantage of seeing it with the benefit of history.
Another widely known passage about doors is of course Revelation 3:20,
This verse was written in the context of the need for repentance by the church of Laodicea, exhorting them that they were “neither cold nor hot,” but “lukewarm.” The Lord reminds them that “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.”
“Uncle Bob” Schneider and I were both impacted by Revelation 3:20 in similar ways, as we made our own decisions for Christ. In Uncle Bob’s case a friend showed him an artist’s rendering of the scene: Jesus standing at a physical door and knocking. His friend asked him, “do you notice anything peculiar about this particular door?” As Uncle Bob did not see it at first, his friend said “it has no handle on the outside. In other words, Jesus is not going to force His way into your life. You have to open the door of your heart and let Him it.” After years of being an agnostic, and investigating the claims of Jesus, this conversation was instrumental in Uncle Bob’s becoming a Christian.
Revelation 3:20 was also key to my own decision for Christ back in October 1971, when a student at Virginia Tech. In my case, the emphasis was on the fact that Jesus says “I will come in.” We don’t have to keep on knocking or begging Him to come in. In other words, it’s a promise. Just as it would be silly for me to keep knocking at my friend’s door after he had opened it, those who receive Him (John 1:12) are given the right to become the children of God. That is wonderful assurance.
Praise God for doors! Not only are they important to everyday life, but they serve as a scriptural object lesson to help us understand powerful truths about how God works. In the next blog post, we'll look at “doors of ministry.”
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