“If religion is only the garb in which Christianity is clothed – and this garb has looked very different in different ages – what then is religionless Christianity?” Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Bonhoeffer asks the most pertinent of questions; “What then is religionless Christianity?” It is living in a state of growing oneness with our God, having conversational communion with Him at the most intimate level imaginable. It is this oneness, this intimate communion with Himself of which Jesus is speaking in Revelation 3:20 “Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. This phrase, “come in to you and eat with you” is literally translated, “Enter into one and will make him to share in my most intimate and blissful contact.” The specific term translated here as “eat” is a term used little in the Bible, and the only other uses are describing the intimate communion meal Jesus had with His disciples in the upper room. Can you imagine a more intimate fellowship than what Jesus had with his followers that night in the upper room? Yet here He is promising to enter each of us by His Holy Spirit and to share with us most blissful and intimate contact, to share a communion as deep as that shared with His disciples on that fateful evening.
This passage in Revelation is often used as message of invitation to those who do not claim to know Jesus. Yet the context in Revelation is Jesus speaking to a church, located in Laodicea. This is a vital understanding, for those in churches may not have yet opened the door of their living to this blissful and intimate communion our God intends for us. Jesus is always knocking at the door of our hearts, awaiting the invitation to share this blissful intimacy with us. How often do we fail to answer the knock each day?
Living a life unified with the very God Himself is the core of New covenant theology, and the goal of the Christian experience. No longer do we worship a God “out there, somewhere.” We are to be in union with Him directly, now. This union, as it is described in John 17, is a union with the Triune God. John 17:22-26 “The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. “Righteous Father, the world does not know you, but I know you; and these know that you have sent me. I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
“I in them and you in me.” Christ Jesus lives in us by His Spirit, making us one with Him and with the Father. God the Father lives in Jesus, and Jesus lives in us by His Spirit.
“…that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me…so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” The Father loves the Son with a perfect love. Because the Son is in you, you have available to you the perfect love of the Father right now. Romans 5:5 tells us, “…and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” The Holy Spirit of Christ in us is the guaranty of the great love of God available not only for us but in us to pour out to Him and to others. And because of this divine love available in us, we have the capacity to love our God and others with a deep and unifying love.
It is important to remember what Jesus stated in Revelation 3:20 – “if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me.” For many believers, that “if” has never been addressed. They have not developed the habit of opening the door of their living to communion and intimacy with their God each day. The result is that the oneness for which they were created and redeemed escapes them.
“O how gently and how lovingly dost thou lie awake in the depth and center of my soul, where thou in secret and in silence alone, as its sole Lord, abidest, not only as in Thine own house or in Thine own chamber, but also as within my own bosom, in close and intimate union.” – St. John of the Cross