In many cases, walls are a good thing. Ancient cities were protected by a wall. With God’s help, Joshua had to get past the walls of Jericho to take over that city (Joshua 6:20). Nehemiah was heartbroken when he heard that the walls of Jerusalem had fallen (Nehemiah 1:3-4).
However, sometimes walls aren’t a good thing. They keep people apart (see Ephesians 2:15). They can keep people out of where they need to get to, or sometimes trap them in a place where they are in danger (see 2 Corinthians 11:33).
So what is the difference between a wall that keeps us safe, and one that keeps people away from the love and help that they need?
Well, although Paul got away through a window, the usual way that we overcome the obstacles of walls is through a door. Yes, there are times when a wall’s destruction has been the solution: We celebrate when dividing walls like the Berlin Wall are torn down, and the Israelites needed God to bring down the walls of Jericho. And technically, we could go through a window to get through a wall, but sneaking in (or out) through a window is usually the domain of the dishonest or the desperate. So, for the sake of this conversation, let’s acknowledge that doors provide a way to let people into where they can get help, as well as to escape the prison of sin.
Like a door, Jesus describes Himself as a gate (a door for a sheep pen):
Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:7-10 NIV
None of us is Jesus, and we cannot save souls caught in sin through our own righteousness (since we sinned, ourselves, and needed Jesus’ salvation). However, we can introduce people to Jesus. Like someone with a lantern illuminating the door to a safe house for refugees escaping in the dark, we can shine light into a dark world with a purpose. We don’t just shine so that people will see us, we light the way to the path of escape. In another sense, those who have found the door of Jesus (and have escaped from a life of sin to a life of salvation) are like someone on the top of a wall calling out to those who are trying to find their way through, yelling out and pointing, “The door is over here!”
Then, once others find Jesus and pass from a broken life to His abundant life, we can welcome them into the family of God. No matter how ragged, dirty, and rough they have become in their search for the way out, we can give them a hug, offer them a place to clean up and get new clothes (sometimes literally), and celebrate that they found the door.
However, the thing about some doors is that they remain closed until we open them. When we wall off sin, that’s a good thing. When we don’t let Jesus in, though, that’s another matter altogether.
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.
Revelation 3:20 NIV
May we seek to show people the one door, and help people find passages through the walls that separate us. More importantly, though, may we open the door to Jesus, so that we can spend time together. These are exciting opportunities, but we must open the door in order to enjoy its benefits.
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