Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I Stand at the Door and Knock

[14] "And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: 'The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation.
[15] " 'I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! [16] So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. [17] For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. [18] I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. [19] Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. [20] Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. [21] The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. [22] He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.' " Rev. 3:14-22 (ESV)

“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me.” Perhaps one of the most abused verses of the Bible. Too often it seems this is applied to the process of conversion. But then the context hints that this is about the repentance of believers, and the Greek hints strongly at the relationship of repentance and the Lord’s supper. Jesus isn’t talking to the unconverted here. The Laodiceans may have a lot to repent for but they are believers. And Jesus is calling them to repentance, perhaps calling them back even from the brink of apostasy. This is necessary at times even for believers lost in sins they do not perceive that are drawing them away from Christ. The Loadiceans had been drawn away from faith imperceptibly to themselves. They had been blessed with earthly wealth and this stole from them their spiritual wealth. They became indifferent about the faith. The became lukewarm. There is nothing quite so unpalatable as luke warm food, it is spit out. But Christ calls them to repentance. He does so that he can once again eat with them.
This is the part of the verse that makes me chafe a bit at English translations bent on de-sacramentalizing the scriptures, dominated as the English speaking world is by reformed churches. Luther’s translation translates it “abendmal haben” the Greek uses a word for a “cultic” meal, a meal had in the presence of a diety in honor of the deity. There is only once such meal in the Christian church, the Lord’s Supper. Well one could argue that we are always in the presence of God and that our meals are sanctified by word and prayer. Yet dinner does not normally come with the forgiveness of sins, as the forgiveness of sins are not promised to be present in any meal, but only in the Lord’s Supper, where Christ’s body and blood are consumed, where we eat with Christ as the disciples did at the Last Supper.
And this brings home the fact that the Lord’s Supper is always to be consumed with a repentant heart, for the Christian life is one of repentance. We always have something to be repentant of, and partaking it in repentance we receive the forgiveness which Christ promises.

1 comment:

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