Once there was a young man who arrived at a banquet hall. He looked in the window and saw everyone smiling, sipping wine, eating hors d’oeuvres, dancing, and conversing with one another. He came to the door and realized that it seemed to be locked. He knocked, and waited, with no result. He began to knock louder, occasionally looking around through the window to see all the people in a far off room, sitting down to dinner. He began to knock much louder, beating on the door with his fists. Finally, he went into a rage, backing up and running to hurl his entire body at the door. He beat on the door with his fists and forehead until both were bleeding. He took out his keys and began picking at the lock and the hinges to try to pry the door open. Then he paused, and started to beat on the door some more. This went on for quite some time, until finally someone from inside came around and asked what was going on. He said, the door is locked, I can’t get in. They said, well, why don’t you come around to the front door, it’s open. You’re even on the guest list, we were wondering where you were! Come along and I’ll help you clean up.
He stood there in tears, bleeding in torn clothes, and said, “I’m still invited?”
This is a bit of a retelling of Jesus’ teaching about being the door of the sheep:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. And a stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them. Jesus therefore said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” John 10:1-7, NASB.
Generally we take this to mean that Jesus is the exclusive means to salvation, the only way to the Father. Let’s be clear, this is exactly true, He is the only means by which we receive grace and mercy in a way that satisfies justice, and He Himself is the door in the sense that He is both God and man. This is the teaching, this is the point of faith. It is not meant to be some exclusionary doctrine, it is a statement of fact, similar to saying that if you want to get on the internet you have to use a computing device connected to the network, or if you want to eat you have to put food in your mouth.
Taking this deeper, many Christians struggle with some particular besetting sin, such as a pornography addiction, drugs, overeating, laziness, or whatever. They beat and beat and beat on themselves mercilessly as if there were no other point of virtue that God is concerned with. By their obsession with the issue they stay continually mindful of it, in effect remembering its desirableness while trying to resist its allure. They think they can enter God’s good favor by conquering this particular problem while at the same time idolizing it. Their inner thought life is consumed with trying to overcome this thing, and with bad feelings about themselves for their failure in it. It is such a vicious circle. It is as if there were no other virtue which applied to their lives. They imagine that no successes they may enjoy have any worth as long as they fail in this one regard.
Perfect and enduring moral fortitude in your area of weakness is not your door to the party. The party does not consist of your struggle or even your success. You are not entering through the right door if you are caught in this cycle. The door to the party, the right door, the easy door, is Christ. He is the one who loves you, He is the One who has the right agenda for you. It is His grace, His love, His provision, His invitation, which welcomes you in. His invitation, His desire for you to join Him, is more powerful than your own inability to unlock the door you think you need to go through. It is, in fact, the wrong door. This door of the law, of moral fortitude, is the very door Jesus is speaking against in His parable – the pharisees were the ones trying to come in through another door via their own flawed self-serving righteousness. When you fight and obsess and take the difficult way you actually come by this wrong door. Grace bids you come in by invitation, all this struggle is in vain. When you get caught up in the wonderful spirit of the banquet, you will forget all the struggles that you thought kept you out. True repentance comes by invite, not by fury and struggle. As the scripture says, ‘Be still and know that I am God.”
“For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15, 16, NKJV.