God’s Beautiful Door
Last week we talked about God’s front porch. The porch is open to everyone, without restrictions. It’s a casual gathering place of friendship, laughter, and tears. I sign for packages on my porch, buy girls scout cookies, donate to fundraisers, and give candy to trick-or-treaters. Strangers, however, don’t get beyond my door. I don’t know if strangers intend theft, violence, or evil. For my family, me, neighbors, and friends, this is a place of safety, food, fun, and rest. You must know me or are a guest of my family to enter. In ancient Israel, the only way one could enter God’s temple was through the door (or gate). There were strict requirements in place; not just anyone could enter. You had to be a person of the faith; of the right lineage, you couldn’t be sick, disabled, have a disease, and couldn’t even go if you were menstruating.
“and its gates will never be shut by day—and there will be no night there. They will bring into it the glory and the honor of the nations. But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”Revelation 21:26-27
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.John 14:6
Is God an Elitist?
If God’s a loving God, then why does he restrict access to the temple? The temple was a metaphor. A great word picture for sin’s devastating effect on us is a disease. Sin takes over our world; affects how we think, interact, and function. A holy God, our Creator, wants us to come to him and have a relationship with him. He fashioned a beautiful door made from the sacrifice and blood of Jesus. We only need to step through it and not go around. As a parent, it brings me joy when my kids come to my house, plop on my couch, and rest. God is that parent; Jesus is the door we can pass through to be with God. The gate is an ultimate statement of inclusion. He paid the ultimate price so we could be sons and daughters and enter his house.
I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture.John 10:9
Miracles Outside the Gate
Peter and John went inside the temple to pray. They went to be with God, they got spiritually full, but it was outside the temple where the miracle happened. They saw a man outside the temple who’d been severely crippled for many years; he came to the temple daily to beg. They prayed, and he was healed. He lept and praised God and could finally enter the temple. So many times, we’ve been disabled by sin, either by ours or that of others. We’ve responded from our pain or sinned. Not even one sin can be in the presence of God; sin separates us from him. The miracle happened outside of the temple when a man waited near. It’s God’s way of reaching out to everyone regardless of their faith, lack of faith, or condition.
“Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.[a] 2 And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. 3 Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. 4 And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 6 But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” 7 And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8 And leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.”Acts 3:1-8
The Door Swings Both Ways
God doesn’t trap us, nor does he desire that we be locked away in her own little temple world. He wants us to reach out to others outside the walls. Miracles can happen outside the gate, but they first happen in our hearts within the temple: presence. When Peter and John were full of power from time with God, they noticed the beggar. People are waiting outside of a relationship with God, wanting something, needing a miracle that only God can give, we may not notice them if we don’t spend time with God. Peter and John brought a miracle only when they spent time in God’s presence and dealing with their stuff first. Then they clearly saw the need after they stepped outside of the gate. We become equipped and see needs when we spend time with God. We can be used mightily outside of the gates to those in desperate need. Will we start expecting God’s miracles through our hands?
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy[a] that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.Matthew 7:13=14
Laying at the Gate
In the spiritual dimension, we can be both disabled and whole. We come and go freely, bring blessings out to others while part of us still lays outside of the gate. Maybe it’s shame, addiction, self-hate, traumatic memories, a fear of love, intimacy, rejection, or a relationship that keeps us away. Maybe we don’t think God will accept us as we are. These areas keep us from receiving the grace of Christ, but that’s what grace is all about. Pain or trauma we haven’t fully dealt with can keep us outside of the door/gate. God doesn’t want us to stay there. Sometimes need other Christians to come from the temple full of power like Peter and John and help us in. Let’s stay by the gate and keep trying. Maybe we need to ask God to help that part of us that’s still outside the beautiful blood-washed gate. He will run to us.
For it is through Him (Jesus) that we both have a [direct] way of approach in one Spirit to the Father.Ephesians 2:18
There is only one way to God, and it’s paved in the blood of Christ. Although it can be hard to admit we can’t save ourselves, we must know that. Sometimes circumstances can get us to that humility; we mustn’t waste that moment. We may have been in and out of the gate, but here’s a part of us that sits outside. Or we could be a person who never went to God to enter the gate. There’s hope for us all. We need only to approach asking that God look to the sacrifice Jesus made and not our sin. That’s what opens the gate. We don’t need to beg or be ashamed or pay penance; he’s done that. He’s standing at the threshold of our hearts, knocking, and all we need to do is let him in.
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20Revelation 3:20