Several months ago I wrote about Revelation 3:20 and a painting of Jesus that portrays this verse that hangs in my in-laws house and in my own living room. This is a great verse to ponder in preparation for Thanksgiving because it talks about Jesus coming in to eat with us.
“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.
Although Jesus will come dwell and dine with all who open the door and welcome Him, He is ever the gentleman. He will not knock the door down and force anyone to believe in Him. It is a choice we are all given whether to welcome Him into our lives and hearts.
In the book we are reading for our adult education class at church — The Master Plan of Evangelism by Robert E. Coleman — the author points out another instance in which Jesus did not force Himself on others. Talking about John 6:60-69, Coleman notes that Jesus did not force any of those who followed Him to accept His teaching if they did not want to. “The surprising thing is that Jesus did not go running after them to try to get them to stay on his membership roll.” The Master Plan of Evangelism pg. 45. There was truth to be taught and a price to pay in terms of giving up one’s selfish desires for those who willing chose to follow Him.
It seems that some churches today have forgotten this principle. They do not simply teach the truth and leave it to the individual whether to believe and follow as Jesus did. Instead, they run after people with offers of compromise and programs to fill their selfish desires for entertainment and instant gratification, all to increase membership numbers. Rather than focus on the quality of teaching and the depth of commitment of the congregation, they focus on sheer numbers.
I’m not suggesting that increasing the number of believers is not a laudable goal. The early church began with only 120 members, as recorded in Acts 1:15, but quickly grew. After being filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter preached the Gospel to the people gathered around. “Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.” Acts 2:41. But each of those disciples who believed was then taught what was necessary to be a disciple. The church grew not only in numbers but in wisdom.
Jesus will not force any to follow Him, but those who do will be blessed beyond measure. The price for such blessing is to surrender one’s own will in exchange for the will of God. It may seem a high price to pay, but it’s really a bargain. Are you willing to pay the price? If you do, your life will never be the same.