“Knock, Knock…Who’s There?” Somehow, the boys have found the awful joke book that I continue to hide from them which means that cheesy knock knock jokes have filled the air space in our car for the past week.
As I sat down for my Sabbath time this past week, I found myself wrestling over two seemingly contradictory statements of Christ regarding knocking, perhaps as a result of a constant stream of knock, knock jokes.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened (Matthew 7:7).
Jesus expects His people to do the knocking. In a sense, He saying, “I am waiting for you to knock. I want you to seek me, to find me out, to hunger for my presence, to ask for more and deeper intimacy with me.” From this angle, we will receive Him, the bread of life, in accordance with our hunger for Him. Man is responsible.
Yet, at the same time, Christ Himself says, “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).
Here it seems that Christ is the One knocking patiently and persistently, waiting for His people to open the proverbial doors of their hearts and lives. God is sovereign.
The Bible is replete with instances of God requesting and even commanding His people to seek Him, to ask for Him, to come near to Him, to want more of Him.
If you seek Him, He will be found by you (2 Chronicles 15:2).
Seek the Lord while He may be found, call on Him while He is near (Isaiah 55:6).
You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart (Jeremiah 29:13).
Draw near to God and He will draw near to you (James 4:8).
Who is seeking whom? Who is knocking? Is God sovereign, or is man responsible?
Where our hearts and minds want to choose either/or, the wisdom and mystery of God force us to accept His paradoxical both/and.
We will experience God’s nearness according to our desires for Him. The more we knock, the more we will receive of Him. Yet, at the same time, we can only knock or open the door in response to His knocking, nudging, and stirring. The seeking seems circular, but, as A.W. Tozer says in The Pursuit of God, God is always prior.
He enables us to open the door.
He stirs up our desires for more of Him, compelling us to knock on the door of His throne room in a desire for greater intimacy.
In his sermon on Revelation 3:20 called Christ at the Door, MacClaren captures this circular seeking beautifully. He writes, “Where Christ is welcomed as guest, He assumes the place of Host….He is guest and host, and what He accepts from us is what He has first given to us.”
Much like the gifts that my children purchase and give to my husband and I with money we have given to them, the hunger pangs for more of His presence that cause us to knock upon the door of His throne room are gifts we receive from Christ and then proceed to give back to Him.
In this season of advent, of eager expectation, we often make concerted efforts to sit in the means of the grace. It is significant to remember that what God commands us to do, He enables us to do. He is always prior. What a gracious Father we serve!