This is another installment in a series on having a conversational relationship with our God by His Holy Spirit within us. The previous posts were published 2/6, 4/16, 23, 30, and 5/7 and 14.
An important factor in growing in our ability to hear from the Holy Spirit is what I refer to as the ‘union-communion factor.” In Revelation 3:20, Jesus is inviting a terribly wayward and error-filled church to repent and return to Himself. “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.” This passage is often used to in reference those outside of the faith, but in context it is a message to the church. What is often missed is the promise contained in it. “I will come in and eat with that person and they with me.” He is inviting them into an intimate union between He and the individual. The term, “eat with him and they with me” is in the Greek a term of deepest and most blissfully intimate communion.
In this is a clue to how the Spirit will speak to us. He will always promote repentance from error, and will seek to draw us deeper into union and communion. Jesus told us in John 14 and again in John 17 that union with the Father and Son is the outcome of the atonement and our relationship with Christ Jesus. Our union with our God, our intimate and blissful communion with Him, and our daily conversations with Him are vital aspects of following Jesus.
The entire passage in Revelation 3:14-22 helps us understand why some people who claim to be followers of Jesus struggle to hear His voice or experience conversational communion with Him. The problem may be that these people are not closely following Jesus in purity, holiness, and conscious union with Himself. Many people who profess to be Christ-followers are actually walking apart from His calling and will for their lives. Such living interferes with the union relationship and interrupts the conversation our God would have with us.
“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation: “I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I am about to spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.’ You do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. Therefore I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich; and white robes to clothe you and to keep the shame of your nakedness from being seen; and salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. I reprove and discipline those whom I love. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come into you and eat with you, and you with me. To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.”
Jesus is speaking to a church that assumes it is healthy, wealthy and wise, needing nothing. Jesus pulls them up short with a stinging rebuke, indicating that they are in a terrible condition. He refers to them as wretched, pitiable or miserable, poor, blind, and shamefully naked. He is asking to be let back into a church from which He has been shut out.
Some have mistakenly assumed that this rebuke is here because the people at Laodicea are not producing good works. This is likely drawn from the opening phrase in the rebuke, “I know your works.” The word from which “works” is translated is the Greek, “ergon,” meaning “a deed or outcome that completes an inner desire, intention, or purpose.” Jesus doesn’t chastise them for not working hard enough but for having the wrong inner desires, intentions, and purposes.
Along with the harsh rebuke, Jesus makes a gracious offer to them: “…if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me. To the one who conquers I will give a place with me on my throne, just as I myself conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.” This offer is to re-enter their living and share the most blissful and intimate communion relationship with them. He will restore them to conversational communion, the fruit of a healthy and loving union with Himself.
For our lack of union and conversational communion, John Eldredge blames our disbelief in the idea that God is really offering to do such things in us and for us. He describes this disbelief this way: “Jesus doesn’t act like that anymore.” (Or perhaps, “Jesus doesn’t act like that with me.”) Sure—he was amazing in the Gospels. But that was then and this is now and things have changed. Or so the idea goes. In one fell swoop, this belief shuts down just about everything and anything we could hope to experience with Jesus. It simply slams the door and leaves us standing on one side and him on the other. You wonder if this isn’t implied in the famous passage from the book of Revelation where Jesus says, “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.” Jesus is asking for intimacy with us. Who shut that door and left Christ standing in the street? It clearly wasn’t Jesus. He’s outside, asking us to let him in. So let him in.”
He’s outside, asking us to let him in. So let him in.