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Stand Up

Luke 13:22-30

The Rev. Jon Roberts

22 August

2010

Good Shepherd Episcopal Church

Venice, FL

22 He went on his way through towns and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. And some one said to him, “Lord, will those who are saved be few?” And he said to them, “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the householder has risen up and shut the door, you will begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us.’ He will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from; depart from me, all you workers of iniquity!’ There you will weep and gnash your teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God and you yourselves thrust out. And men will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.”

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Christ at Heart’s Door, Warner Sallman, 1940-60

Stand up, stand up for Jesus;
One day He'll stand for you.
When he knocks it's really simple;
Open up and let Him through.[1]

It'd be nice if everything that comes to our door were as simple. The problem is our door is narrow. It's only so big, and the things of this world are so many, they are tiresome. We don't have the time to inspect everything that comes to us from the east and the west; from the north and the south. We live in the days of mass media, too much advertising, too many telemarketers, too much mail and too much spam. What are the trusted sources we allow in, anyway? "Just let him through," may sound too naive to do. For many in the world, Jesus may be like an unexpected pop-up when He shows at the door. You can hear the skeptic:

"Lord, You promise the kingdom of heaven but..
Will I get more cable channels?
Will I get a higher speed Internet connection?
Does this come with frequent flyer points?
Why do I want to get "in"?
What are you really selling and
What's the catch?

Simple or not I'm not letting you in until I know what you want in return. I want to see the fine print." This is a highly critical and agnostic view to say the least. "Just let Him in? I'm not so sure. You can't be too careful these days. There are those who are out there to get you. Jesus could be one more of them." This is obviously satire to expose the folly or vice of another, but is there folly or vice in what our Lord presents when he comes to us and knocks on our door?

Apparently Jesus is not the only one going door to door these days. There are others who receive a great deal of public outcry. Some people have even written articles to expose such scams. According to Consumer Affairs Inc. one of the nation's home security giants is reported to have the highest level of fraudulent billing behavior.

Sam from Ocala wrote about his visit by some of their salespeople. One day he heard a knock on the door and there was a man who wore a blue shirt, a badge, and holding a clipboard. He was very official looking. The man noticed Sam's home didn't have security because there wasn't one of those signs in the yard. He told him there was a rise of criminal activity all over. Someone is being broken into every eleven seconds. He told him that if only he were to buy their system his safety would be guaranteed. Guaranteed, he wouldn’t have any robbery or home invasion. He presented the monthly rate to Sam along with the terms. He would have to put a sign in his yard and he would have to sign a three-year contract. Sam refused to sign a three-year contract. Seeing the sale slip away and the door beginning to close, the salesman picked up his cell phone, and said he would have to see what he could do. He pretended to speak to someone in the home office, but really all he was doing was talking to his partner who was driving in a white van around the neighborhood. After what appeared to be haggling with the boss, he told Sam that a one-year contract was OK. He then struck through that part of the agreement.
Sam also asked to make sure his monthly fees would not increase and the salesman assured him they would not. With that, Sam willfully signed the contract. He now has the surveillance system for his peace of mind. However, after thirteen months his stomach sunk, a bill came. The second year automatically renewed and his rate increased. How could this be? The company explained that an independent contractor had negotiated the initial contract a year ago and there was no way out of the three- year commitment. They also reserved the right to make increases each year, which they did. Sam took them to the BBB but they continued to bill him. The company said if you want to sue, you'll have to take it up with the original contractor. By the way, that contractor is no longer in business.

Have you ever wondered what you signed, only to find out after it's too late? Times like that, you want out. What's worse, you find out the guy down the street went with a different agent and is extremely happy. Times like that, you want in. When the kingdom of God has come into full revelation by all of human history, it will be too late to ask if you bought into the right plan.

Our Gospel today is that God's plan of salvation is available to all who let Him through the door.[2] It's the same plan He offered at your birth. It's the same plan He offered at your baptism. It's the same plan He offers at the Eucharist. At each interval we choose to renew, and every moment we talk it over with Him, the plan gets higher and higher. You could say it reaches as high as heaven. The greatest benefit is after you read all the fine print you find God has already paid for the plan. All it cost you is a little sign of love and gratitude. A sign you put up, for all the world to see. You need to show stand up and show the initiative. You need to come to His house, to church, and worship Him. If you can't come to church, you need to read His terms, the bible; start with His commandments. If you can't read the bible, you need to talk, to sing or listen, by praying; try the psalms. Stand up and declare that He is King and that through His Son Jesus, and through Him alone, He is our refuge and strength, our very present help in times of trouble.

Be still and know that I am God
I will be exalted among the nations;
I will be exalted in the earth.[3]

That's what will be heard when you get to heaven. Turn to the forty-sixth psalm and the Nicene Creed. It's there in the contract. There will be people in heaven who are babes, those who are last. There will be people who are old, like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets; those who are first. They did not subscribe to the folly and vice of others. They subscribed to the Gospel of God's plan for salvation. It is the same plan offered to you. Saving your life happens the same way when God sends His Son Jesus to knock on your door. The problem is our door is narrow by our sin that we have allowed in. We aren't the unborn who knows not, and we aren't the dead who knows how. We aren't the last nor are we the first. We're somewhere in the middle. We're in the middle of this life, on this earth just trying to get by and it can be tiresome. God already knows that. He paid the price and now Jesus stands on our behalf. God's plan is still the same. He intends to save your life for all eternity. You have to decide if you have what it takes to simply stand. Not everyone will.

The narrow door you must enter is through your heart.
Therefore, stand up, stand up for Jesus;
One day He'll stand for you.
When he knocks it's really simple;
Open up and let Him through.

[1] The Rev. Jon Roberts
[2] Luke 13:22-30
[3] Psalm 46

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