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“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).

IT MAY STRIKE US AS UNUSUAL THAT WHEN GOD CAME INTO THE WORLD, HE CAME IN SUCH A GENTLE WAY. Perhaps He could have landed with an invading army and compelled our submission with brute force. But he appeared as a gentle Teacher, asking us to open the doors of our hearts to Him. In saying this, we do not question His power or authority; we are simply noticing that the call of the gospel comes to us in the form of an invitation.

In my life, there have been times when I wondered why the truth about God and His Son, Jesus Christ, is not more compelling. If these things are true, why are they not so obvious that everybody would see them? Why do we have to be reasoned with and persuaded? In God’s wisdom, many factors might be involved, but one thing seems clear: God wants to have a relationship with us that is based on love — and if love is forced upon us, it ceases to be love.

Think about the combination of truth and love that is involved in our response to the gospel. The truth will always be the truth, of course, and the truth about God is majestically powerful. It tingles our spine when we contemplate even the edges of it. But the problem of sin is the problem of our rebellion against God’s love. In self-will we have refused to abide within the limits that our Creator’s love placed around us for our protection. Yet the wonder of the gospel is that He loved us enough not to leave us in our alienated condition. He made it possible for us to be reconciled to Him. But it would defeat the whole purpose of His love to compel us to come back. So He “knocks at the door,” so to speak, inviting us to let Him come in. If we respond to the truth of the gospel, it must be an act of voluntary love. We must choose to say yes.

This means that our eternal destiny is in our hands. If the gospel is an invitation, everything hinges on our response to it. Will we accept our Father’s love or will we reject it? If we are lost, we will probably spend eternity blaming God for not being more forceful to break down our resistance. But if it’s not love that brings us back home, what good would it do for us to return to God anyway? What He desires is our love . . . or nothing at all.

“Jesus Christ will never strong-arm his way into your life” (Grady B. Wilson).

Gary Henry — +

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