Jesus, what is it that you want?
It seems odd to me that Jesus is outside. Revelation 3:20 finds Jesus saying to a church: “Hey, I’m outside your door! I’ve been knocking, if you let me in we can have dinner together.” Alarm bells should be going off!
Communion Broken, Again.
What happens to me that finds me in this troubling situation? Is it rebellion and intentional sin? Possibly, but that’s not likely the cause, it’s likely the result. No, probably I’m here (inside enjoying a nice evening with my family or doing the Lord’s work) and looking just peachy. I probably look fine to everyone around me and I’m justified in my ministry. Theologically I’m on solid ground. So how did I get here? Why am I doing Jesus’ work while he’s outside knocking on my door?
Self sufficiency? Pride? Giftedness? “Good” theology? Maturity? How often am I doing the ministry on my own? How many times has Jesus asked me to take a risk in faith, but I’ve stayed in the place that seemed safe. How about you?
Jesus tells a story of 10 young women waiting for the bridegroom’s return (Matthew 25). As the bridegroom’s time to return to marry his bride, a young Jewish girl would begin to sleep in her wedding dress and she would probably do her hair before bed (an interesting idea to save time in the morning, if I had hair)! She didn’t want to be caught unready for her own wedding. Her close friends would also get ready so that they could escort her groom into the town and to the wedding party.
These 10 were waiting and ready. Well, they thought they were ready, until the bridegroom came. Ten 5 realized that they didn’t have enough lamp oil for their lanterns and at a very late hour had to go find a shop keeper to get more oil. The girls with enough oil couldn’t share. By the time the 5 lazy girls arrived at the wedding, they were denied entry. In this story, the lamp oil is personal experience with Jesus – or intimacy.
This seems very unfair but Jesus wants us to be crystal clear on this: you have to be ready yourself, no one else can do it for you. You can’t exchange your hard work and ministry success for knowing the bridegroom and him knowing you.
Union with Jesus Restored
So how does a person, busy in life and ministry get their own oil? The bride in Song of Songs experienced this in chapter 5.2-6.10. (You can read Hudson Taylor’s devotional here)
- Expectation – she’s resting comfortably and though she knows the voice of the one she loves, the door is locked and barred. I don’t think she expected him. If I want Jesus with me, I’d best leave the door unlocked so that he can get into his own house. Practically this means listening to other believers, even if they’re younger. It means waiting through uncomfortable silence in meetings to see what The Lord is doing. Starting everything in prayer, only ministering in the power of a prayer meeting.
- Intimacy – she looks like him, smells like him, lives in his house but she doesn’t spend time with him. I need to have my heart moved by what The Lord is saying to me today, not resting on what he said yesterday, last week or last year. Worship disks, scripture, devotional texts are all great tools for meeting with the one I love daily.
- Ownership – finally the bride declares, in 6.3 I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine; he grazes among the lilies. From the time the bride declares this she is no longer found outside of the King’s presence. Until this point, she hung on to her claim on the bridegroom. Now she declares that she belongs to him – she is his. It’s time for me to relinquish my claims on Jesus, my entitlement to royal treatment and give up the praise that comes from using the gifts He gave. I am Jesus’ possession. His inheritance. I must be willing, in an instant, to give up all my ministry and treasure for the treasure of Jesus.
Until I am prepared to live expectantly, intimately and humby, I’m at risk of hearing the dreaded, “knock, knock. Is anyone there? It’s supper time.
Jesus has one goal for you.
Jesus’ one desire is that you would be fully his. He jealously is drawing you into the best life possible, but it’s got to be done his way. Don’t be fooled, he won’t be denied. Don’t be afraid, he’s most interested in you living a full and abundant life.
For you, which of the three temptations are most likely to fall into? Is there something very practical that the Holy Spirit is prompting you to do today? Are you holding tight to something that isn’t even yours? When was the last time that your heart yearned for Jesus? Is there space for Jesus to interrupt your life or ministry?
- A Roller Coaster Faith Experience (lifeonthefrontporch.wordpress.com)
- Slip Sliding Away: Season 2 in the Song of Songs (lifeonthefrontporch.wordpress.com)
- It’s not as bad as it looks: Seasons of close union with Jesus (lifeonthefrontporch.wordpress.com)