Opening up wide with Christ

God’s blessing, grace, and glory are so magnificent that humans have difficulty grasping it all. Thus for anyone who is willing to receive Christ, the following principle applies: “Widen your heart, widen your mind and your frame of mind.”

The Bible text used for this divine service in Dinwiddie, South Africa, on 28 November 2021 was: “Open wide, you gates. Open up, you ancient doors. Then the King of glory will come in. Who is the King of glory? The Lord, who is strong and mighty. The Lord, who is mighty in battle” (Psalm 24: 7–8).

Some biblical scholars believe that this passage refers to the entry of the ark of the covenant in Jerusalem. The psalmist describes in poetic language that the glory of God is so great that the gates of the city had to be opened up wide so that it could pass through.

For Christians this Bible text announces the coming of Jesus Christ as Redeemer. “This word also applies to us,” Chief Apostle Jean-Luc Schneider said. “Jesus wants to enter into our hearts. We must open our hearts and minds wide if we want to receive the fullness of His blessing and salvation.”

Redemption rather than solving problems

The problems this can cause was already shown during Jesus’ time on earth. “The Jews had their own ideas about what the Messiah should do.” Namely defeat the Romans and restore the kingdom of Israel. Jesus, however, had something entirely different in mind: “He told them that He had come to bring them eternal life. And they were disappointed.”

“Many people have a narrow conception of the work of Jesus. They believe in Jesus and expect Him to solve all their problems on earth.” Of course, we can tell Him about all our troubles and hardships, the Chief Apostle said. However: “Widen your mind and think about Jesus. He has come to bring us ultimate salvation.”

Gratitude instead of calculation

Devout Jews believed that if they kept the commandments and did good works, they could earn God’s blessing. “Jesus came and said, ‘No, that is not how it works.” In fact, God’s chosen people have already experienced so many blessings. “So be obedient out of gratitude and not out of self-interest.”

“We also have to open up our perspective,” the Chief Apostle said. “God has done wonderful things upon us. So everything we do should be done out of gratitude and not out of selfishness.”

For all rather than for a few

When Jesus commanded the rich young man to give everything to the poor and follow Him, the Lord made it clear: no one will be rewarded, everyone needs grace. And fellowship with Christ is far more precious than any earthly possessions. “So open your hearts up wide for the glory of God. If you have Jesus Christ, you have everything.”

Jesus also addressed a too narrow understanding of the notion “neighbour”. “Don’t just love those who love you. Love your enemies. Love all those who are totally different from you,” the Chief Apostle said. “Open up your hearts wide and learn to love as Jesus loves: all human beings.”

Whenever you are going through difficult times: “Open your eyes and your heart wide. It’s not just about you.” Jesus said: “Don’t forget that you have a mission. I want you to be a blessing in your situation for all those who are in the same situation.”

Greater than we can imagine

And finally, he said, we need to broaden our understanding of the bridal congregation of Christ. Nobody knows who will be part of it. Although the rebirth out of water and Spirit and the preparation through the apostolate are a prerequisite, Jesus set some special standards during His life-time, for example, in the case of the widow’s mite, the thief on the cross, and the strangers who did wonders in His name.

The Chief Apostle went on to say: “Think about the Christians of the early church. Think about the Christians at the time of the English Apostles. Think about all those who have been baptised and sealed in the beyond. Here too our idea of the bride of Christ is sometimes narrow.”

In summing up, Chief Apostle Schneider said that one thing is for sure: “Jesus is working on our salvation. He will come soon and then the faithful will see the glory of God, and that will definitely be greater than anything we can imagine.”

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Andreas Rother
South Africa, Chief Apostle, Divine service