John Stott had all the right pieces in play.
As a young Christian man, he took time to pray, read his Bible, go to church. He tried to do good and be good. What more can you ask for?
In 1938 while at school he heard a sermon on Revelation 3:20 where Jesus said:
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me…”
Stott later recounted this moment:
“For, intellectually speaking, I had believed in Jesus all my life, on the other side of the door. I had regularly struggled to say my prayers through the key-hole. I had even pushed pennies under the door in a vain attempt to pacify him. I had been baptized, yes and confirmed as well. I went to church, read my Bible, had high ideals, and tried to be good and do good. But all the time, often without realizing it, I was holding Christ at arm's length, and keeping him outside. I knew that to open the door might have momentous consequences. I am profoundly grateful to him for enabling me to open the door. Looking back now over more than fifty years, I realize that that simple step has changed the entire direction, course and quality of my life." 1
This moves me in three ways. First, I realize what I’m doing. Know it or not, I tend to keep Him outside. At arm’s length.
Second, I realize He wants more. He wants to come in. To be at home with me, to be at table in dynamic communion with Him. No separation.
Third, I realize there’s something to do. He’s enabling me to open the door. To welcome the most profound change anyone will ever know.
And do it every day. Keep the door open!
This is the problem with sin. I get lost in a “me-world”. Without knowing it, I keep gently, quietly closing the door. Again and again. I fall back into patterns of doing all the right things and push Him away. Keep a safe distance. At arm’s length.
And there comes a knock on the door. He wants more.
Something terrifying happens when we do this for a long time. We actually lose our hearing. We stop hearing the knock. We lose our desire to read the Bible, go to church, get godly counsel, and live in daily fellowship with Him.
And so He knocks. And knocks. But we can’t hear.
He wants us to open the door and keep it open. Always open. No more separation. No more keeping Him at arm’s length.
For John Stott, this simple step “changed the entire direction” of his life.
Maybe this Christmas, the very same thing will happen to you.
Just go, open the door.
1 Timothy Dudley-Smith, John Stott: The Making of a Leader, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, IL, 1999. p. 95