Summary: The doors of the church: some are locked, but panic hardware always lets us out for mission; some are heavily locked, but it is Christ who is our security; and some are never locked, for we are to be open to embrace those who need us.
Have you ever seen a place with as many doors as this church building has! A hardware salesman would be in heaven, right here! Doors, doors, everywhere doors.
There are doors leading to the outside. Eight of them, I think.
There are doors inside, leading into the rooms. Some doors take you into one room, so that you can get to the door that takes you into another room.
There are doors that are really two doors, cut half-way up. There are doors that are very wide, but then there are doors, like this one into the choir loft, that are very small. All sorts of doors in this place.
There is one door that opens on a stairwell that most folks don’t even know is here. There is another door that is so well hidden only a few people realize it exists. And when you see what is behind it, you wish it didn’t exist! There are even doors you have to open so that you can reach the light switch to give you light when you enter the next door down the hall! What a magnificent treasure trove of doors we have, right here!
Have I been through every one of them? There are two doors I have never entered, never tried to enter, and have no desire to enter. One of these doors is a trap door that takes you to a crawl space underneath the sanctuary floor; to enter that door you have to be young and lithe, like Keith Pinder, who did ran some wires in there not long ago. As long as we have young thin men, I’ll never have to squeeze in there!
And the other door I have no intention of using is a hatch door, at the top of a ladder from the third floor, going up to the bell tower. I haven’t opened that door because as sure as I’m standing here, when that door is opened, there will be a brace of dead pigeons to deal with, and the only things worse than dead pigeons are live ones flapping in my face. So you can keep that door closed!
The church building is full of doors. All kinds of doors. There is one thing, however, that seems to be common to almost all of these doors. A custom we have about a great many of the doors in our church: they are shut and locked. Classrooms, offices, closets, the whole place gets shut down tight much of the time. I don’t remember asking for that. It just happens. Doors locked up.
Wherein lies a parable, a parable about security, spiritual security in the hour of trial.
The Lord of the church at the ancient city of Philadelphia says to His people: "These are the words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens: I know your works. Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut." Spiritual security in the hour of trial.
Some doors lead to the outside. Yes, they are kept locked much of the time. But most of them are equipped with what is called, "panic hardware." Panic hardware lets you go out of a door any time, no matter whether the outside is locked or not. Some of our doors have panic hardware. They are always ready to let us go out, locked or not.
Notice that, as the Lord speaks to His church, the first thing on His mind is the door that leads us out. The door of opportunity.
"Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut." The door of opportunity, leading out.
I am persuaded that the most important thing we can do for spiritual renewal is to serve. If you would be revived, start with service. We’ve always known this, but somehow we got stuck in our ruts. We found ourselves going stale. We felt dissatisfaction in our spiritual lives.
But I feel something quite different now. I feel a new vitality;
I feel a growing commitment. It is reflected in something so simple as our statistics. On an average Sunday right now there are about 35 or 40 more of us here than on an average Sunday a year ago. And that’s just one measure. Something is stirring in our church.
What is happening? It’s really very simple. In the last twelve to eighteen months we have organized several ministries. We have taken the challenge and we have organized to do things for others, and that is changing us. That is reviving us. We have chosen to go out the door, where there is opportunity.
We have organized the Visitation Volunteers to go to others with a message about Christ. We have organized Reclaiming Our Youth, and right now the first young people are being assigned to some of those volunteers. We have organized a Single Parent Action Group and a Marriage Enrichment Group. We have put together the SHARE program. We are doing some things that take us out of doing church as we used to do it. We are walking through the open door of opportunity.