During the Christmas holidays last year our family was blessed to visit my mother in sun-kissed Florida. One balmy night as we were enjoying dinner in her waterfront condominium, I did something I don’t remember doing in a long, long time.
I obliged my daughter’s request to get her soft drink from the balcony, which was directly behind me. As I got up out of my seat and turned, I took a step or two and was met by something solid — glass met face. Ouch.
The sliding glass door to the balcony was closed. I obviously didn’t see that it was closed. Had I perceived that reality, it would have saved me some embarrassment.
In the evangelistic process, doors are a component on which we want to fix our spiritual eyes. For when we attempt to go through doors that are closed, we may say ouch unnecessarily. But when they are open, we can walk through and more effectively fulfill our role as we partner with God in His Kingdom Building project called the Great Commission.
What is a spiritual door in personal evangelism? It is an opportunity to share the gospel message. More specifically, it is an opportunity to proclaim in word the gospel. Now we can always love people, pray for people and serve people by showing God’s love in deed. This should be a constant component in our witness. But to share verbally with someone that Jesus died for our sins, rose again on the third day so we can be forgiven, reconciled to God, and experience abundant and eternal life through faith in Jesus…that door needs to be open.
The Apostle Paul experienced both open doors and closed doors in his missionary life, as you and I will in ours.
In Colossians 4:2 he asked the Church in Colosse to pray that ‘God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ.’ Sometimes doors are open, other times they are closed. And in the mystery of God’s providence, it is He who opens doors and interestingly it He who can actually close doors. For example, In Acts 16:6 Paul, Silas and Timothy were ‘forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia’ and when they tried to go to Bithynia, ‘the Spirit did not permit them’ (Acts 16:7).
When we think of opportunities to share the gospel, let us not confuse open doors with open hearts.
I’ve had occasion where people allowed me to share the gospel, and then stopped me from continuing. As a missionary in New York City, I remember meeting with a Jewish man who had an interest in Jesus and was open to hearing more. After sharing the gospel, he came to an understanding that Jesus was the only way to God, for He said in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” He told me he was uncomfortable with Jesus being the only way and said he didn’t want to hear about Jesus anymore.
In Acts 16 we see an open door to an open heart as Paul shares the gospel with Lydia at Philippi and she receives the Lord : “The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14).
How someone responds to the gospel is mystery. We are called to simply be obedient to share the gospel as we have opportunity, leaving the results to God.
In our personal witness, walk by faith and follow the Lord, praying and looking for spiritual doors to walk through so we can share the good news with others. Ask the Lord for wisdom and discernment to see open doors, lest we run into a closed door unnecessarily and say, “Ouch!” So love those around us, serve them, and pray for them, always being ready to walk through an open door…