Well, you’re back. Welcome. Either you are back to see another terrible attempt at blogging, or amidst the chaos of the last post you picked up on something that you liked. Either way, you’re here now, so let’s make the most of it.
Coming home Tuesday I realized something peculiar as I approached my apartment door. I dropped my keys while fidgeting to pick the right one, and looking down I noticed the welcome mat I have on the floor. FYI I’ve been living at this apartment in Miami, Florida for 9 months now. The welcome mat – still has its tags on it.
It isn’t in the best of conditions, but I’d give it a solid 80%. Standing on it I asked myself, why do people even buy these things? Like, why do they need to have “WELCOME” printed on their floor in large bold letters? If it said “CLEAN YOUR SHOES” it would carry a more useful imperative to the reader. My neighbors have one too – does that mean I can walk in and out of their place as I please? That’d be interesting – door randomly opens with people coming in to just say, “Hi Karim”, grab a handful of pistachios from my kitchen counter, and head out. Actually it may be acceptable for entertainment’s sake.
Why is it an uncomfortable concept – leaving my door unlocked to the public? Am I scared of getting assaulted while playing some Madden on my XBOX? Probably not. I think it’s a personal space thing for me. My house, my space. Who can come in? Who is actually welcome? Well it’s those whom I consider appropriate, duh. Criteria? A certain cleanliness is required (I don’t usually wash feet upon entrance), a reasonable capacity on the IQ curve, a presumed interest in me…
I don’t know.
How do we decide who can come into our homes? I obviously haven’t used the ‘welcome’ mat to bring in people who needed welcoming. I should take it back to the store…it still has the tags.
So this Sunday we celebrate Palm Sunday. Does this warrant a ‘celebrate’? Jesus riding a donkey into Jerusalem…big deal? Huge deal. You know the story. He came in, and everyone did their welcome thing.
The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’ The King of Israel!” (John 12:12-13 NKJV)
Now THAT is a real welcome mat. Branches of palm trees, and Luke’s depiction mentions the people throwing their clothes on the ground. Impressive scene. We see it all the time in the iconography, but imagine this scene in 2015.
What kind of mat would I put out for Jesus? I asked myself if I’d use a generic/used welcome mat, or would I go out of my way to piece together something nice for Him.
Would I give up something valuable to me? Like the clothes on my back, or (God forbid) my time – to go get some palm branches? More importantly, would He feel that I want Him to come in to my Jerusalem?
Imagine for a second with me, that Jesus Christ knocked on your front door right now.
King of kings. The Logos of The Father, incarnate. Like, for real.
I cannot help but laugh because how crazy this would be for me, so forgive me. Humor me for a minute. I see myself looking through the peep-hole, and either checking the date immediately (expecting an “April fools!” or a “trick-or-treat!”), then running to my room to check myself in the mirror and making sure I’m somewhat presentable before opening the door. How presentable could I get in a matter of seconds before feeling like He’s been waiting too long?! The true God, standing on my door mat that says “welcome”.
Lets fast forward to the opening – “Jesus! So good to see You!”
Who am I kidding?! I’d be speechless. In fact, I’d never be ready to open the door to meet Him. I’d avoid it at all costs. Shut off the lights, and act like no1 is home.
Ever do that before? Halloween – my parents used to make us do it while growing up. I didn’t even know the kids coming to the door and it drove me nuts. How could I be so rude to the little 8-year-old kids asking for candy!?
Do I do the same with Christ?
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. (Revelation 3:20 NKJV)
Ever take a real good look at this icon? Not just the Orthodox rendition, but almost all the Google-search variety as well…they all have something in common. It’s got to be 1 of my favorite icon meditations and the pink arrow is to draw your attention to the detail. The door NEVER has a handle or doorknob on the outside. Isn’t that something? Of all the times you’ve seen the picture, have you noticed this? (I cant believe this person btw…not having a welcome mat…some nerve)
So, Jesus actually CAN’T just let Himself in? Correct. He wouldn’t. This door has a very advanced one-way security feature, only the person on the inside can open it. This place, is our heart. He doesn’t want to come in to my heart if I’m not truly welcoming Him. He doesn’t want a surface ‘Hello-Pistachio-Bye’, Christ wants all of me. He wants to ‘dine’ with me. You take someone to dinner when you really wanna talk. When that relationship is a priority to you.
He’s knocking. I’m nervously avoiding. I even start playing some music to tune out the occasional knocks. These are the tunes of my life – whatever the genre. School, work, relationships, problems, stresses, complaints, family issues, addictions, hate, anger, struggles, and even ‘service’. The list does not end. They block out my recognition of His presence completely.
…And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice. (I Kings 19:11-12 NKJV)
He prefers quiet. I won’t hear His voice (or knock) otherwise.
Have you ever waited outside someone’s house for a minute too long? Funny how impatient we can get so quickly. Christ has been knocking on my door, non-stop, and I just keep putting it off. But from His overflowing, and everlasting love, He only waits on me to come let Him in.
In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.” (John 14:2-4 NKJV)
So two chapters later (somewhere after the Last Supper #13in13), John mentions a pretty famous quote of Christ. It’s famous because it appeals to our culture. Mansions? Sure, I’ll take one. But I want to bring our attention to the second part. That He is going to prepare a place for me and you. How beautiful.
St Cyril of Alexandria explains this ever so eloquently. Read carefully.
If there were not many mansions in God the Father‘s home, he would have said that he was going on before them to prepare beforehand the homes of the saints [that’s me and you!]. But since he already knew that there were many homes already fully prepared and awaiting the arrival of those who love God, he says that he will depart, but not for this purpose. Rather, he leaves in order to secure the way to the mansions above, to prepare a passage of safety for you and to smooth the paths that were formerly impassable. For in times of old, heaven was utterly inaccessible to mortals, and no flesh as yet had ever traveled that pure and all-holy realm of the angels. But Christ was the first who consecrated for us the means of access to himself and granted to flesh a way of entrance into heaven.
Christ came down to put down a welcome mat, for us, at the doorsteps of heaven. All I can say after (re)reading that is, “awesome”. It’s more than a welcome mat, it’s a bridge over the “formerly impassable”. It’s a bridge, and all we must do is Cross over. It’s Him. Walking my life through Christ will get me to heaven.
And He’s already done His part. The least I can do is mine. What’s that entail? Putting down whatever mat I can, opening the door, letting Him in, dining with Him, and asking Him to “Hosanna” – or save us (me). This would yield only 1thing; making Him the King of my Jerusalem, the Ruler of my life, the Focus of my being.
I’m just thinking aloud here. So think aloud with me. Actually hear yourself say it. I must prepare my heart to be with Him now, and listen for the knocks for Christ to live in me. So ultimately, I can live in Him and with Him, eternally. Make sense?
Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him. (Romans 6:8-9 NKJV)
So here goes – 1thingisneeded: May we prepare our hearts through repentance to have our King enter and reign this Sunday. Through the following week we can remember the lyrics of that song “lead me to the cross”, so I can come to Good Friday, and recognize it as “Good”, for He made the once impassable, into a sweet journey of love. From there, I can experience His victory as my own, and live my life in Him, till I can reunite with Him eternally.