With the death of Dr. Don Campbell, President Emeritus of Dallas Theological Seminary, last week, I decided to go back and listen to several of his sermons. After all, he was a terrific preacher and in his later years, even with Parkinson’s, he held his audiences in chapel spellbound with his analysis of the Scripture and the stories he could recall from the far distant past.
That’s how it is with these older theologians. They have a way of presenting the Bible in ways that younger pastors don’t seem to get. They weave stories with the divinity of Jesus and, suddenly, you are “face to face” with Jesus as they, including Dr. Campbell, discuss some complex point made simple by his illustrations.
Such was the case with the sermon I heard earlier this week. Dr. Campbell was explaining that when we accept Christ as Lord and Savior, we should think of it as opening our “spiritual house” for his inspection. He recounted the story of another pastor who compared this to inviting Jesus over for a tour of our “home.” Imagine inviting the Lord of the universe to your home and answering the door as he knocks.
You show Him the living room, dining room, family room, kitchen and the bedrooms. You may even be quite proud of your home but in the midst of the “tour”, Jesus asks you what is in one of the closets of your house. Now this is one of the places that you weren’t thinking about opening up for Jesus to see. That’s where all the ugly stuff is hidden – the things you are embarrassed about and don’t want God to see. So you pretend that you didn’t hear Jesus ask about that particular area of your home and you move on.
But no matter where you lead the Lord, He keeps asking about that closet you have locked. In your heart, you know that you should open every room and closet for Jesus to see – but for some reason, you just can’t. After much consternation, and repeating questioning, you finally, reluctantly, open the locked closet. And there it is – all the ugly stuff in your life – right out there in the open for Jesus to see.
But a funny thing happens – no judgment from the Lord. Just your awareness that He finally has access to everything you have to show. By the way, He knew what was hidden in the recesses of your house before you ever opened all the rooms. That’s because he is omniscient (all knowing) but you probably already knew that – it was just tough to admit – even to yourself.
Dr. Campbell went on to explain that once you have opened your entire life to Jesus, you no longer have anything to hide. That can deepen your relationship with Jesus – giving Him full access to all the nooks and crannies of your “spiritual home.” In fact, as Dr. Campbell recounted the story, having completed the tour, he felt compelled to give the keys and even the title of his home to the Lord. What a powerful story it was. And it was good advice for all of us.
If we truly surrender our lives to Christ, then it is important that we recognize His Lordship of our lives and all that we have – wherever or whatever it is. Our verse for tonight highlights the fact that Jesus trusts us – as is evidenced in the Bible in the story of His conversation with Peter. Jesus had just asked Peter who people think Jesus is. Peter acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ – the Messiah – a correct answer.
Jesus went to on tell Peter, (known as Simon at this time), in Matthew 16:17-19, “Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
These verses announce the future formation of the church that Jesus will build. It is also important to notice that Jesus also promised the keys of the kingdom of heaven to Peter. And whatever Peter did with those keys, Jesus would apparently support. What trust Jesus had in a mortal’s ability to manage things to the glory of God!
My encouragement this evening is that Jesus wants us to each trust Him the way that He trusted Peter. My prayer is that each of us can consider turning the keys of our respective “homes” over to Him, just as Jesus gave Peter the keys to the kingdom of heaven. It seems like we should be able to manage that, shouldn’t we? After all, in the context of eternity with Jesus in Heaven, it seems like such a small thing… Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…