Sometime last spring I entered the men's restroom at my church and while at the sink washing my hands I noticed something - a picture from the wall is missing with only its nail remaining. I thought to myself, "Someone stole Jesus!" The picture is a most popular one in Christian circles. Forgive me for not knowing the artist.
It is a picture of Jesus knocking on a door. Jesus is dressed in first century garb - a white robe. He has long hair, similar to other artists' depictions. The door upon which he is knocking holds the key to its meaning. Shadows on the doorway are cast in such a way as to form a heart - the light portion of the wooden door in the shape of a heart; the darker shadow outlines the heart on the door. For many years I didn't understand its meaning until one day someone showed me the heart and revealed to me the symbolism of Jesus knocking on the door of our hearts.
Theologically, it is all well and good for us to ask Jesus into our hearts - to hear the knock of our savior and to answer the door and invite him in. However, I do not believe the knocking stops after that. What if Jesus also knocks from the inside? How would that look on canvas? Imagine Jesus knocking from our hearts to those of us living only in the outside world of materialism, earthly human values of success, prosperity, power and control. I think this is what happens more times than not. I think people are (mistakenly) under the impression that more possessions, more power and control, more earthly sensual experiences is the answer to our emptiness and our relative unhappiness.
Jesus keeps knocking from the depth of our souls and we get a bigger house, a bigger car, a better job, another spouse, another location, a better drug, or more money, more power - all stealing and manipulating Jesus.
Paul told Timothy that people would one day attempt to take the Kingdom of God by force. But, this way is not the way that leads to eternal life, or life in the eternal. It is a way that leads to further misery and emptiness. And even though people will try all manner of things to fill their voids, the only way to peace and fulfillment is to face the void and to find that it's not a void after all. It is the place, our souls, where God resides, where God is knocking at the door from the inside.
Here is one of my favorite stories of late. Forgive me for not knowing its origin, and for my own paraphrase:
There was once an artesian well that came up from the earth and formed a pool. People found it and began drinking from it. They found its source was never ending and that its water was pure and delicious. Its power cleansed the insides of their bodies and brought to them a sense of well-being when they bathed in it. Soon, however, men decided they could control the coming and going of a person to the artesian well.
By building a wall around it, they could control when people could access the water and thereby control how much water was taken and used. Eventually, the men charged admission to the well site.
This infuriated the well and so the waters ceased to flow, leaving a stale, stagnant pond. Some kept coming - a few out of habit and still others out of hope that they would still reap the healing benefits of the water.
Later, the well popped up again in a different place. And people found it again. And, eventually, people benefited from it again. But, people decided again to build a wall around it controlling access. Admission was once again charged. And once again the artesian spring got mad, stopped flowing, and eventually located in another place. It is this process that has been ongoing since the beginning of time.