As I type this, horrific scenes have been cast into our peaceful homes from Afghanistan, as the Taliban enters with swift force.
This post isn’t about politics. It’s about people.
I know there are Christians in that area. Missionaries, and those who have come to believe in Jesus because of the willingness of those who believe that the Gospel matters for the sake of lost souls in this world – even when it meant moving to the other side of the world Danger is at their doorstep – literally – and it doesn’t knock. No, it will just break down the door.
Oddly enough, I am slated to write on John 20:19: “On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the disciples had gathered together and locked the doors of the place because they were afraid of the Jewish leaders. Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, ‘Peace be with you.’”
Melissa and I chose to write a while about the beauty of gathering together as humans and as Believers because we believe that it is a designed element of how we access and encounter the Lord. In the verses we will research, we will see that there are different reasons that the Lord’s people are together, but the results are always the same: they encounter the Lord.
I could skim over today’s current events in Afghanistan, in fear that some of our readers may resort to political division and pointing fingers. I could choose not to bring it to your attention, on the off chance that you haven’t been keeping up, and I don’t want to ruin your Monday with the reality that I have seen today. I could… but wouldn’t that choice, in some way, be the antithesis of joining with others in the faith? Wouldn’t I be doing the exact opposite of what Paul encouraged believers to do: “do not forsake the gathering of yourselves together…encouraging one another, and even more so as the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:25)?
(Can I do what I preach? Can I divide myself from what I believe, just to save someone’s feelings? Am I a fraud? As far as I am concerned, no…I will not be…I must not be.)
In John 20:19, Jesus’ followers are together – not for a prayer meeting, and not for a potluck. They were together because they were hiding. They were afraid, and they had good reason to be scared: Jesus’ body had disappeared, the Jewish leaders were panicked for answers, and all that the disciples had known for the last 3 years had been crucified and buried a few days earlier. Their past, present, and future were all hanging on a thread of uncertainty. The only thing they may have been certain about was that they didn’t want to die. So, they huddled together, shutting the doors of their gathering, and (I suspect) talking more with their worried glances than with their hushed, quivering voices.
Locked doors have never stopped Jesus. Things that are covered up are never hidden from the Lord’s watchful gaze. And no amount of threat can intimidate Jesus from reaching His own children.
“The Lord came and stood among them”. He entered into their terrified, hidden huddle and speaks to them: “Peace be with you”.
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines this particular phrase as: “According to a conception distinctly peculiar to Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is...in the salutation of Christ after his resurrection.”
Did He stop there – after His 30 second sermon to His fearful followers?
Of course not.
He showed them His hands and his feet – the eternal record of His love, sufficiency, perfect obedience even unto death, grace, and power over death, hell, and the grave. He proved Himself - in spite of their fear and doubt and confusion. In spite of their current scenario, the impending threat of danger behind the locked doors, He gave them peace for their fears, assurance of their souls’ security in God. Furthermore, He gave them the Holy Spirit – an empowering agent of this new salvation – the seal that testifies that they were His – forever.
Locked doors – real or intangible – have NEVER stopped Jesus.
They were defeated, endangered, and defenseless. He met them with all they needed: the proof of Himself as Victor, borne from His great love for them.
Will you join me today? Will you “gather together” in prayer for Believers in the Afghanistan region? Will you pray that no matter what, Jesus will show up wherever they are, in the midst of their fearsome situation, and will provide a glimpse of Himself in a new and empowering way? Will you agree in prayer with me that the Lord knows those who are His and that He meets them where they are?
On a personal note: are you hiding somewhere deep within? Are you afraid of the next thing, the next step, the confusion in your mind, heart, and situation? Do you whisper in hushed, quivering breaths that there is hope, yet your furtive eyes are searching for…something…some sort of way out, or assurance of safety? Do you need Jesus to come and stand in your midst and speak His peace over your heart and mind today, as you hide behind the locked doors of insecurity, façade, reputation, or delusion?
Girl…I’ve been there…more than I want to admit. It’s the closest to hell I ever want to get this side of heaven. Will you reach out today? Send a text to a friend, ask them to “gather together” in prayer for you today – for whatever you are hiding within. A real friend doesn’t have to know the details. A real friend will just pray…no questions asked. If you do not have a friend, reach out to us. Send us a direct message, or email us at: email@example.com. Melissa and I will gather together with you – agree with you – no questions asked.
Locked doors have never – and will never - stop Jesus from reaching you.