Doorkeepers - Jon Fryer
‘I would rather be a doorkeeper
in the House of my God then dwell in the tents of the wicked’ (Psalm 84;10)
The verse talks about the House of the Lord. In the Old Testament this meant the Temple, but to Christians it really means the Kingdom of God, or Heaven, because to be in Heaven is simply to be wherever God is. The House of the Lord is huge and spacious – in John 14;2 Jesus says ‘in my Father’s House are many rooms, and I am going there to prepare a place for you’ – but more importantly it is fixed and permanent, it is a house, a home, a place to live and shelter and rely upon. I contrast, the place where wickedness lives is small and cramped (as anyone who has slept in a tent can tell you!), but worse, it is impermanent. You can not rely upon a tent to be there when you come back to it! The two most wicked cities in the Bible disappeared in a single afternoon – read Genesis 19;23-28. The reason archaeologists have so much trouble finding Sodom and Gomorrah is because there is nothing left to find – where they once stood is now the Dead Sea. God smacked the place so hard that it knocked it below sea level, and nothing can live there even today, five thousand years later! That is why the Psalmist says ‘I would rather be a servant in God’s house than live richly in wickedness’. The servants in the Temple in the Old Testament were the Levites, the Tribe of Levi. When the land was being given out to the various tribes in the Book of Joshua God said ‘the Levites do not need any land, because I will be their inheritance forever’. You can rely on God forever, but you can not put your trust in anything that is not God.
What relevance is this to us today? In the City you see many people who put their trust in money, in cars, in their social life… but they are building their house upon sand. A seemingly insignificant event in a far off land can cause the stock market to crash, and the jobs and the money and the cars and the parties all disappear, like a tent in a hurricane. Money is not permanent. Fame is not permanent. Nothing that is from this world can be relied upon. Money can be great and fun, but don’t ever put your trust in it, especially if you have to sell your soul to get it, because it won’t last. Col 3;5-6 says ‘these things belong to the world: sexual immorality, lust, malice, slander, swearing, evil desires, drunkenness and greed, which is idolatry – because of these things the wrath of God is coming’. What happened to Sodom and Gomorrah will eventually happen to the entire world. Everything that you see around you will be swept away in fire like a tent in a storm, and only those things that are good and pure and holy and of God will be left standing… and when that happens, I know that I’d rather be a servant in God’s House than dwell in the tents of the wicked, ‘cos the tents are going to burn.
Some people say ‘Fine, I can work hard for the money and still serve God, but read what Jesus said about that in Matt 6;19-21 + 24. Working as God’s servant is a full time occupation! You can not serve two masters at the same time – you always have to make a decision about what comes first in your life, about who your real boss is – either God, or the world which will disappear. You might say ‘But I need the cash to survive!’ Fair enough, but if it comes down to a decision between serving God, or disobeying Him just to make money, then serve God, because He will look after you. Always. God always provided for the Levites in the Temple from the very best of the offerings brought to Him, and He will do the same for you. Again, read what Jesus says in Matt 6;25-34. I would rather be a doorkeeper in the House of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
What the wicked do in their tents, why we should avoid it, is all negative. God always wants us to do something positive as well however – so what do ‘doorkeepers’ actually do all day anyway?
Imagine a medieval castle – towers, battlements, all that stuff. Now the thing that you’ll notice is that a proper castle only has one main gateway in or out – it may have a drawbridge and moat, or a portcullis, or huge wooden gates with tree-trunks to bar it, but there is only one doorway. This means that the doorkeeper in a medieval castle was a fairly important person, with quite a few jobs to do. Obviously his most important job was to… open the door! The doorkeeper makes the decision when to unbolt the door in order to let someone in. How does that relate to us as Christians today? Jesus said ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes in to the Father except by me.’ He also says in John 10;9 that ‘I am the gate; whoever enters through me will come in and find rest’. Jesus is the one and only door into the castle. There are lots of people out there in the world who are looking for a way in to God, but they just don’t know where it is – all they need is someone to open the door for them, and as Christians, as the doorkeepers in the House of God it is our main responsibility to lead other people to God. Jesus’ very last words to the disciples in Matt 28;19-20 is a command to ‘Go into all the world making disciples of all nations, baptising them into the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you’. That command is still in effect today, and it applies to us if we consider ourselves to be servants in God’s House rather than dwellers in the tents of the wicked. But we can’t evangelise all the time, can we? Ok, we can give up a week of our holidays to
go off on a mission to somewhere or other, but then we have to go back to school or college or work. How then can we evangelise all of the time? The
problem is one of words – what the church today most often calls evangelism isn’t actually evangelism at all! The kind of things the church most often
calls evangelism – the preaching, and outreach meetings, and events – are actually evangelisation, which means ‘the process of spreading the good news’. This is not actually evangelism. Evangelism is an ‘ism’ word, which means that it is something you are, all of the time, and not something that you do every now and again. A Buddhist is someone who lives according to the principles of Buddhism. A Communist is someone who lives according to the ideals of Communism. An Evangelist is someone who lives the good news of salvation at all times, even when at school or at work!
Another job of the doorkeeper in a medieval castle is to feed the beggars that gather at the castle gate. It is part of his job to show love. Another part of his job is this – when someone approaches the castle at night, he goes out with a lantern and shows them the path up to the castle door. Read what Jesus said about the light in Mat 5;14-16. Jesus also said ‘By this everyone will know that you are my servants – if you love one another’. I tell you, if you go one step further than this and actually show love even to those who don’t deserve it then you will light up the path to Jesus for them, and you will truly be a doorkeeper to God’s House.
The job of carrying a light for others doesn’t just apply to non-Christians. The Bible tells us to ‘encourage one another daily, for as long as it is called ‘Today’’. We best do that by opening the Word of God and the reality of God’s love for us to one another, by sharing our prayers, our study and our everyday lives with one another. The church often stresses the part about ‘Go into all the world making disciples’, but sometimes it’s not so hot on the ‘teaching them all of my commands’ bit at the same time! The preacher or teacher who opens up the Word of God has done his job as a doorkeeper if just one person goes away knowing God a tiny bit better. When the people of God gather together we shouldn’t be spending our time bitching and fighting and gossiping, we should be talking about God, and what He has done, and what He is doing. Our lips were made not to drag others down but to glorify God, and to build up our brothers and sisters by speaking the truth in love in order to open the way for them to know God better. I would
rather be a doorkeeper in the House of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked.
Another part of the job of the castle doorkeeper is to protect those using the doorway. When a friend of the castle is racing towards its safety with enemies in hot pursuit then it is the gatekeeper who leads a force of soldiers to rescue them. The gatekeeper is the first to attack and the last to retreat, waiting until all are safe in the castle before coming in and ordering the doors to be closed. How can that be applied to us as Christians today? On a small scale, as an example, if someone is being bullied then a Christian should be the very first person there defending them, not joining in as we so often do! If everyone has turned against someone then we as Christians should be the very last person still standing there with them offering friendship and support. As Christians, as doorkeepers, we should never give up and walk away from anyone needing our help… but do we?
On a larger scale, Christians have neglected their job terribly in this country. Often we hear talk about ‘social justice’ – well, I don’t know about ‘social’, but God is very much in favour of ‘justice’. For example, take abortion. The teaching of the Bible is very clear on the fact that abortion is the taking of a human life, and therefore, except in very special circumstances, is murder… and yet the church did little or nothing to prevent this murder for convenience from becoming legal in this country. As Christians we should be the very first people campaigning against such institutionalised evil, and the very last people to shut up and go away, but are we? No! Listen to what God says about justice, both great and small, from bullying to abortion
‘Speak up for those
who can not speak for themselves, and for the rights of
those who are destitute; Defend the rights of
the poor and needy. Rescue those being
led away to death; Hold back those
staggering towards slaughter. If you say ‘But I
didn’t know about this’, does not God know the
truth? And will he not repay
you for what you have or have not done? (Proverbs 31;8-9 + 24;11-12)
The castle gatekeeper has yet another job – he guards the doorway against enemies trying to break in. As doorkeepers we guard the House of God from the enemy, Satan. Read John 2;12-17. Read Numbers 25;1-13. This is how we are supposed to treat the sin in our own lives, for the Bible says in 1 Cor 6;19 that we ourselves are God’s Temple on Earth. We’re not supposed to look for sin in anyone else, and say ‘so-and-so did this, oooh, aren’t they bad!’ We’re not supposed to look at our own sin and say ‘It’s not that big, I’ll just hide it at the back somewhere and god will never notice’. We’re supposed to take out our sin and kill it off. House of God or tents of the wicked? Where are you really? Where am I? Where do you want to be?
You might say however that you want to serve God better, but you just can’t do it. I say it all the time. The truth is though, it’s an excuse. The
medieval doorkeeper has one final job. The medieval doorkeeper is called the Castellan, the ‘castle-keeper’, because he and he alone has the keys to every single doorway and gate and lock in the castle. Listen to what Jesus said about the keys in Matt 16;19: ‘I will give you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven; whatever you lock up on Earth will be locked up in Heaven, and whatever you unloose on Earth will be loosed in Heaven.’ As Christians, as God’s doorkeepers, we have been given the keys to everything on Earth and in the spiritual realms. All authority and power has been given to us. If we are trying to obey God’s commands as faithful servants then nothing and no one, not even Satan, can stop us. As Christians we have the power to do good… or not, as we choose. We have the power to love… or not, as we choose. We have the power to forgive… or not, as we choose. We have the power to resist temptation… or not, as we choose. The power to obey God… or not, as we choose. To be a servant in the House of God… or to dwell in the tents of the wicked… as we choose. It’s our choice. You can choose to serve God, or you can choose to live in the world… but I would rather be a doorkeeper in the House of my God than dwell in the tents of the wicked… and that’s a choice that you have to make for yourselves.
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