Always Open

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.”

John 20:19

In 1988, at Christmas, the chain restaurant Denny’s decided to close for the Holiday. This was an unusual and costly decision for them, as the 365-day-a year restaurant had never closed before.

Many of their front doors had no locks. So they had to install them.

Check virtually any Denny’s today, and you’ll find a lock on the door, however rarely used. (uselessinformation.org) They’re still not prone to closing, but if they have to, they’re ready.

I don’t know what your temperament or personality type is, you reading this, but I grew up pretty innocent. Wide open. I was blessed to be raised by two loving parents, and in several great churches, and, perhaps naively, my early years were spent believing I was safe, and loved, and completely surrounded by “good” people.

Somewhere in my high school years, I installed a lock on my front door. I had to, because I was quickly learning a harsh truth about the world: It’s not wise to trust everyone. It can even be dangerous to be that open.

Even though that’s what it may be like in the Kingdom of God, down here on earth, there are times when it’s not smart to let just anyone in.

I hate this life lesson! I would much prefer to welcome every stranger and every friend deep into my life, nothing held back. I long for a world where there are no shadows, no hidden places or secrets, no vulnerabilities.

A world where there are no locks on Denny’s. Always Open.

The post-resurrection story of Jesus in John 20 is fascinating to me. In spite of the Disciples bolting their doors closed to keep out the Jews who were searching for them, Jesus just pops into their midst and says, “Peace Be With You”. The very next week, this time with Thomas present, he does it again.

There’s no lock that can keep Jesus out. He has unfettered access to those innermost places. It’s true, we can do our darndest to keep even Him away, but if he chooses, he can make his presence known. (That’s called Prevenient Grace–the unmerited love of God that reaches us before we even ask for it.)

It’s not meant to be an invasion of privacy, or the crossing of some ethical boundary. It’s the simple fact that Love cannot be held at bay. Not forever. Through the cracks around our doors, through the keyholes we’ve installed, Love never stops trying to find a way to us, offering peace.

Not some artificial peace where we pretend every relationship is harmonious and every person is deserving of unguarded trust. In this world, despite my early dreams, I’ve found that’s just not possible.

Instead, Christ comes to us with the reminder that there is One to whom all hearts and all doors are open. There is One who is deserving of such trust. And that Grace provided us is to spill out into our daily interactions with others, promoting peace and trust beyond our sheltered hearts.

I think locks are important, even healthy. They allow us to retain some identity and protection from a swirling world of confusion out there. Jesus reminds us, however, that they are not to be blockades, built of fear of others.

Peace be with you, Jesus says. Inside and out. Focused on Me.

I think he’s hit it on the head.

No, not just a hit…

a Grand Slam.

Have a Great Week,

Mitch

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