That Sunday evening the disciples were meeting behind locked doors because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he showed them the wounds in his hands and his side. They were filled with joy when they saw the Lord! Again he said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”
– John 20:19-23
One of the main reasons Campus Awakening exists is to convince you of your calling to be an ambassador. (I unpacked what that means more here) I love the passage above and how Jesus comes through the locked doors in our lives to breathe a new identity on us and empower us to live as Christ’s resident representatives in this world. This new label that Jesus bestows on the disciples, coupled with the falling of the Holy Spirit that came 50 days later at Pentecost, was what took hold of a group of eleven scared nomads and propelled them to alter the course of human history.
If you look at the story it made a lot of sense that that door was locked – the disciples were fearing for their lives and didn’t want to get hurt like Jesus did. Likewise, we have erected doors to protect us from external things that could hurt us. Emotional, physical, even social pain is managed through all sorts of intricate systems of internal retreat: caves are dug, castles are built, islands are retreated to. Whatever metaphor takes your fancy, so many people have collectively and individually found their way into their own upper rooms and are so entrenched there that they couldn’t find the door keys even if they wanted to.
It stops anything getting in. It also stops anything getting out.
Locked doors stop anything getting in. They also stop anything getting out.
This is what strikes me as the story unfolds: Jesus moved through that barrier and gave the disciples a new identity, one filled with faith and not fear. He envisioned and empowered them, giving them a mission and the authority to get it done. But, even then, the door was still locked. From the inside.
I realised that our own locked doors don’t just stop us from getting hurt, they are not just defence mechanisms that we would do not better not to have. No, they are blockages that if left untouched by God will actually prevent us from fulfilling the call on our lives. They are obstacles that can stop people coming into our worlds and receiving the gifts that we have been commissioned to share with them.
Basically, it’s not all about me and it’s not all about you. As with everything in the kingdom, when God gives us a gift he also presents us with an opportunity for stewardship: how will we spend what we have been given? Never is that more true than with that greatest gift of all, our adoption into God’s family. Paul tells us in Romans 8 that creation is literally groaning in anticipation of the revelation of the sons and daughters of God. The world is desperate for us to show up as we truly are!
Jesus didn’t just win you back and heal you up so you could feel good about yourself and forget about those outside. Our new found freedom and God-given identities actually allow us to move out of survival mode and take part in the greatest adventure we could ever give our lives to – extending the kingdom of God here on earth.
In the midst of their renewal, the disciples still had the choice as to whether they would actually go through that newly opened door and out into what was beyond it. They did, and the world was never the same again.
The question is, will we?