We know that attending the divine services is associated with special blessing. We also know that we can experience the Lord Jesus there in a special way. He offers us the word of God in the sermon, He grants us forgiveness of sins, and He celebrates Holy Communion with us. He thus enters into our hearts. In order for this to occur, it is important for us to prepare ourselves accordingly. After all, who would want to receive a visit from a very important person without preparing appropriately beforehand?
A passage from Revelation has something worth considering to say about this. In one of the letters to the churches recorded there, the exalted Lord Jesus promises: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3: 20).
That is the promise of the Lord Jesus.
I envision this as follows: Jesus Christ stands at the door of our hearts and knocks. Well, why wouldn’t we open the door for Him? One very simple reason for this might be that we did not hear Him knocking in the first place. Perhaps He has been knocking—or to use more modern language, perhaps He has been ringing the bell—and we have simply not heard Him. If that is the case, we will not open the door! The Lord Jesus wants to come to us every Sunday, every divine service, even in the middle of the week. He knocks upon the door of our hearts. But if we want to hear the knocking of the Lord, we must see to it that there is sufficient peace and quiet in our hearts. That is our task! If there is too much noise, if everything else is too loud in there, then there is also a danger that we might not even hear the Lord Jesus knocking in the first place!
Perhaps this is only a simple image, but if we think about it for a moment, we realise that it is very applicable. After all, there are many things that can prevent our hearts from being at peace. Our daily lives keep us quite occupied. Perhaps there are various cares in our hearts. Perhaps we have to deal with illness or other matters that burden us.
Allow me to illustrate another obstacle with the following example: when someone rings the doorbell at our home, it may well be that we do not wish to be disturbed, so we do not open the door. Perhaps we choose not to open the door for the Lord Jesus because we do not wish to be disturbed. In other words: we do not open the door because we might be called into question. Perhaps it will not be all that pleasant if Jesus happens to come at this moment. After all, one might already have an inkling beforehand: “Oh, He is only going to tell me what I am doing wrong and what I am supposed to change.” And perhaps we do not feel like changing. Perhaps we do not want to be called into question. And so the door of our heart remains closed, just because we do not wish to change. Therefore let us already look inside ourselves before the divine service and tell ourselves: “I do want to listen to Jesus and I do want to change!”
Every now and then it is worthwhile for us to ask ourselves the question: “What am I lacking anyway? What do I still need in order to prepare myself for the day of the Lord? What am I lacking in order for me to have peace, to be happy, to regain my spiritual equilibrium?” Most of the time we will notice that we are still lacking a great deal. And then all of a sudden we will come to the divine services with holy longing and we will open our hearts to the Lord. Then we will hurry to open the door because we know: “Finally I will receive what I am lacking!” That is how our preparation for the divine service could look! Let us see to it that peace and quiet prevails in our souls in order that we may hear the Lord knocking. And let us have the desire to change, let us gladly let the Lord call us into question. And let us accept the things we still lack with great longing such that peace may grow within us. Then the Lord will give us what we need.
(From a divine service by the Chief Apostle)
Wishing you all a blessed Advent and Christmas season!