chained fence

My husband and I grew up in a small town where everybody knew everybody, the vast majority of people were Christians, and most neighbors never locked their doors.  The combination of those conditions saw people practicing hospitality with those who would just “pop in,” and demonstrating consideration by not “popping in” too often or at inconvenient times.  Most of us kids grew up in an atmosphere of trust and goodwill that left us unprepared for life outside our small town.

If we had been more biblically literate, we could have profited from two contrasting scriptural distinctions.  In Genesis 4:7 after Cain’s jealousy of his brother Abel culminated in Cain murdering his brother, God warns, If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.”  The visual is a crouching lion waiting to spring upon and devour unsuspecting prey.  Moving from the first book in the Bible to the last one, Jesus in Revelation 3:20 speaks to those He died to save.  “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.”  Jesus is the considerate neighbor who will not intrude, but is waiting to be invited inside.  It is imperative that we understand both heaven and hell are at the door.  If we are not intentional about welcoming Jesus, then opportunistic sin and hell itself will fill the void.

The predator (Satan) sets people up to be his pawns.  Therefore, Jesus instructed His disciples, “Be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to the local councils and flog you in their synagogues. 21 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. 22 You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 10:17, 21-22)  We must take note that Jesus is speaking about people we would normally trust: those in our churches, those in our families and communities.  The discussions in our homes and participation in social media outlets have seen brothers and sisters in Christ pit themselves against each other in taking political sides.  We actually need to revisit a question from another era, “What would Jesus do?”

We can’t possibly answer that question if we don’t know Jesus’ Nature and Character.  He knew He would be unpopular among men, because following Him requires we humble ourselves to acknowledge that His ways and thoughts are higher than our intelligence, wisdom, opinions, and justifications regarding righteousness.  Truth doesn’t come from repeatedly proclaiming a message, but comes solely from the Person of Jesus as the Truth.  Even King David experienced what happens when man is responsible for the narrative: “The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.”  (Psalm 12:8)

As Christ followers living in a fallen world where the enemy has blurred the line between good and evil, we dare not trust our opinions or feelings of right and wrong.  After all, the nature of deception is that we do not know we are being deceived.  But if we will humble ourselves before Jesus and be willing to look at any ugly truth about ourselves that He reveals, His promise is to forgive, renew a right spirit within us (Psalm 51) and lift us up (1 Peter 5:6).  Christ is not divided and He never straddles the fence between good and evil.  He will absolutely guard the door of our hearts, if we seek Him for this.  So, what have we to lose (apart from our pride and arrogance)?