Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Key and the Unlocked Door

“The Key and the Unlocked Door”

Pastor Tom Millner

Matthew 7:13-14; John 14:1-7

John 14:6 from our reading today states; “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” This one verse has been a lightning rod for so many folks of this and past generations. Pantheists are revolted by the notion that there is only one true way to God…in their view there are many gods, but each has a unique way to get to that god. Many people in our community are swayed by the erroneous belief that this statement is too narrow, too limiting, or too old fashioned. What in fact most of those who embrace that stance are asserting is their objection to the god of condemnation that is so readily promoted in the fundamentalist community. This verse is not about condemnation, it is about good news that the way to God, (what we’ve always dreamed of) is present, ready, available, and completed through and by the person, Jesus! He is the truth, He is the way, and He is the life and there is no need for any other way, since no other way is possible. The rift between us and God was made by our ancestors and we re-open that separation wound every day. The only one who can heal that wound is God Himself! The only thing we are asked to do is to accept that God has done for us what we couldn’t do for ourselves and then live in our “healed” state. Simple, isn’t it? Then why is it that everyone’s trying to find “the key” when the door is already unlocked?

1. God’s act of grace through Jesus Christ doesn’t magically make us perfect. There is a damaging misperception that Christians are supposed to be perfect. The only perfect human we’ve ever heard or read about is not Super Man or Super Woman, but Jesus. There’s only one of Him. He doesn’t need a stand in while He takes a rest to get His nails done. He’s perfectly human and perfectly divine 24/7. When Jesus answered “I am the way and the truth and the life…No one comes to the Father except through me…” He wasn’t asking for His replica to come forth. When we believe that we must be perfect as Christians, we develop all sorts of little defensive behaviors to guard against others seeing anything other than our perfect Christian character. The moment we believe we are or even need to be perfect is the moment our imperfection is in full bloom. The Pharisees believed that they too must be perfect in holding up the Law. Jesus challenged them with the truth of who He was. The Pharisee response was to kill that which showed their failures and threatened their grip on people’s perception. We live in a nation full of modern day Pharisees who strive to project perfection while ultimately sowing seeds of deception and rejection. There is no path to perfection. There is no “perfect way.” There is Jesus who is the way the truth and the life…that’s perfectly divine! He is the way to the Father, with whom we were created to relate.

2. Relationship is the door that opens to life. We look for keys to life; keys to success; keys to happiness and keys to relationship when no keys are necessary. Keys open doors, open chests, open cabinets and jewelry boxes. We believe that the secrets of the universe are locked away somewhere and all we need to do is to find them. We seek to practice prayers, attend meetings or worship services, read daily from inspirational sources as we strive to unlock the door to health, wellness, and prosperity, not to mention peace, love, and joy. When one key doesn’t work, we seek to find another key, then another key, then another key until we’ve collected a treasure trove of keys. Sometimes we go back and pick up a key discarded and try it again believing we didn’t hold it just right the first time. A key, my friends, not only unlocks, it also locks! Each time we’ve tried a “key” that didn’t work for us, we’ve locked ourselves out of understanding there is no key and locked ourselves into the need of finding the right one. There’s no lock on the door we seek. Therefore no key is needed. The wide gate and the broad road are loaded with fabricated locked doors and shiny keys. They are all so attractive because they hold promise of fulfillment, peace, acceptance, power, and love. Tell me, how’s that key to the one night stand working out for you? How’s that key to peace through Gray Goose working to build your character? How’s that last article of clothing or other trinket you compulsively bought doing with everlasting peace? How’s that last juicy bit of gossip you shared working in your quest for everlasting respect for knowledge and power you possess? Anybody here getting the picture? None of these build relationship with Christ. Unless you’re willing to lay them down at His feet and start relating with Him as a grateful grace recipient ready to be stripped of all your keys, you’re not in a relationship with Him. C.S. Lewis said “The doors of hell are locked from the inside.” Simply because you choose to live with your own key doesn’t change the fact that “God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that WHOSOEVER believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life.” Drop the keys and knock on His door of everlasting life!

3. Everlasting life IS a relationship! Everlasting life is not an event to happen, a time to come when we are no longer breathing, nor a continuation of the same thing we’ve experienced, but without all the negative influences (bothersome people) in our lives. Everlasting life is not just the absence of bills to pay, tweets to return, people to unfriend, or nights feeling alone and rejected. Everlasting life is not just that place where we experience perfect peace some day being who He created us to be without all of the religious condemnation. Everlasting life is a relationship with life Himself, with the way Himself, with the truth Himself. That relationship is not some distant time and place; that relationship is right now. That relationship is what He talks about in the “whosoever” of John 3:16. That relationship is the one He describes in Matthew as a small gate. It’s the gate everyone desires, but not the one that the world around us paints as open to all and available right now. Relationship is the way, the truth, and the life…the relationship is Jesus. We cannot be in relationship if we insist on always having everything as we see fit, when we see it, as it is convenient for us. Fortunately, the relationship to which we are called is with the perfect lover. The lover, who is full of grace and mercy, always patient, always kind, does not envy or act boastful or prideful. A lover who is not rude or self-seeking and keeps no records of wrongs. One who does not delight in anything evil, but rejoices in the truth. A lover, who always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. We seek a lover whose love never fails. That’s our dream of a perfect relationship. His name is Jesus…why do we call Him by other names or put other characteristics on Him that He neither needs nor deserves? He’s the perfect lover for our imperfections, our shortcomings, and our visions of grandeur. He’s the perfect lover for learning how to let go of our key chain. We just have to remember that the way to the relationship with Him is running to Him, not away from Him. He gave His life for this relationship with Him. That life given is life for us, with us, in us – relating intimately with Him and practicing what we’ve learned in Him with each other. Relationship with Him is not at a time and a place; relationship with Him IS time and place. Relationship with Him is not the map to the kingdom; it is the kingdom. Relationship with Him is not the key to peace and prosperity; it is peace in the presence with the owner of the universe.

It’s time to deposit our keys in the eternal key drop and open the door which is relationship with God. He doesn’t expect us to arrive at our first date with Him driving our U-Haul; He wants to arrive with our dump truck because He knows there are many more loads to come. He’s fit for the journey. Are you willing to unleash the first load and fall into the arms of Love Himself?

No comments:

Post a Comment