1 Corinthians 16:9 – “I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, 9 because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.”
Last week’s post, Disappoint Doubt, explored the doubt of Thomas. An unconventional approach was taken to understanding Thomas’ reason for doubting the report of the other disciples (concerning the resurrection of Jesus). The doubt of Thomas does not convey a lack of faith (purely). The doubt of Thomas does not convey an inability to logically or rationally explain the plausibility of Jesus’ resurrection. Rather, the doubt of Thomas expresses his fear of accepting a false sense of hope – Thomas is unwilling to believe unless he experiences the truth of Jesus’ resurrection. He has already lost Jesus once; he cannot bare to loose (even the possibility) Jesus again.
Thomas, therefore, employed doubt as a means of protection. While the other disciples were hiding behind a locked door in Jerusalem, Thomas was hiding behind the locked door of doubt. It was suggested that you and I may use doubt in the same way – we hide behind the locked door of doubt because we fear accepting a false sense of hope. We doubt when we are afraid we will be disappointed. For that reason, we were encouraged to Disappoint Doubt by flinging open our locked doors and fleeing into the world of risk and possibility – where the something else and the something more can be found!
What if the door was already unlocked? What if you already had access to this world of risk and opportunity ? What if you could flee from your place of hiding and escape into the unexpected?
Paul begins his correspondence with the Corinthian church while still in Ephesus. As Paul concludes his first (assumed) letter to the Corinthians, he expresses a desire to travel to Ephesus so that he may visit the Corinthians. He explains, however, the need to postpone this trip:
“After I go through Macedonia, I will come to you—for I will be going through Macedonia. Perhaps I will stay with you for a while, or even spend the winter, so that you can help me on my journey, wherever I go. For I do not want to see you now and make only a passing visit; I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord permits. But I will stay on at Ephesus until Pentecost, because a great door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many who oppose me.” (1 Cor. 5-9)
Paul will travel to Corinth, by way of Macedonia, but only after he completing his work in Ephesus. A “great door” has been opened for Paul, which will allow him to perform “effective work.” The work to which Paul refers is the proclamation of the gospel. Paul is not comfortable leaving Ephesus until he declared the promise of new life through the resurrection of Jesus Christ to the people of that region.
The locked door of doubt behind which we hide is only locked in our hearts and minds. In truth, the door is unlocked, wide open, and awaiting our escape. Our God, who’s love and grace has been revealed in Jesus, does not intend for you and I to hide in doubt. Our God has liberated us in Christ so that we can be free to flee into the world of the unexpected. We are free in Christ to encounter the unexpected, where the something else and the something more are to be discover. We are free in Christ to encounter the unexpected presence of God.
A responsibility has been attached to our freedom (paradox). We are free to escape into the unexpected, where the something else and the something more are discovered, but we are called to proclaim the gospel on our way. Our proclamation is achieved by living the hope of the resurrection.We proclaim the gospel when we live in and live out this hope – hope in the promise of a new life to come; and, hope in the promise of a new life now.
Paul claims a door for effective ministry had been opened to him, but there were many who opposed him in Ephesus, as well. There was a great opportunity for Paul, but this opportunity came with risk. Proclaiming the gospel was risky.
The door is unlocked. It leads to an unexpected world full of opportunity. This unexpected world requires risk, as well. Proclaiming the gospel, by living the hope of the resurrection, will be met with opposition. Yet, it is a risk worth taking. We risk the empty room behind the unlocked door so that we can escape into the unexpected! We escape into the unexpected presence of God where the hope for a new life (now and then) is realized. New life hidden in the presence of God through Jesus Christ — that is something else and something more worthy of risking it all.
Let us be encouraged to flee through the unlocked door and escape into the unexpected. Let us risk it all for the hope of a newness of life.
Have you ever encountered the unexpected presence of God? I would love to hear your story! Please leave a comment in the “reply” section or send me an email at HamptonUMC@gmail.com. Blessings…