John 20:19-23 recounts the story of the disciples encountering Jesus for the first time since the crucifixion. The disciples are huddled behind a locked door fearful of the Jews when Jesus comes to greet them and bless them with words of peace. After Jesus grants them peace, he gives them an apostolic or missional calling. Jesus says (paraphrased), "Be at peace and unlock the doors. God has sent me and now you are to continue this mission." Then, Jesus breathed on them and gave them the gift of the Holy Spirit.
It seems that we are due for such an encounter. We, who lock our doors and huddle on the inside of our buildings, need an encounter with Jesus and words that implore us to unlock the doors once again and be at peace. We are good at locking the doors. In fact, our lock is beginning to wear out from its continual use.
I am included in this. I love church. I love Christians. I love fellowship. I love Bible studies. I love small groups. I love accountability groups. I love staff meetings. I love all of these things, but I rarely love to unlock the doors. I've got the inreach and upreach, but the outreach side of my spiritual life is malnourished and unused. I think we've had enough of throwing money at the problem and stiff arming the lost by hiring missionaries and community outreach ministers to ease our worn consciences. Short term mission trips are good, but do they really help people or do they make us feel better about ourselves. All of these things are good, but if they are the focus of our outreach our locks are still on the doors. We need to build relationships with the lost more than help them on a short term basis.
The church is meant for more. The church is meant to be a bridge to the community. The church meets as a means to an end. The assembly is not the end of the Christian faith. Eternal assurance through baptism is not the end to faith. The end to faith is furthering God's kingdom in whatever way allows us to enter into his reign. We go to church in order to be commissioned again with the rest of the body to make an impact outside of the locked doors.
In your church, are you more comfortable sitting with Peter and the rest of the disciples in fear? God is telling you to be at peace, to receive his Spirit, and to be sent out as he was sent out. This is what it's all about. So go ahead, unlock that worn lock. Give it a rest from protecting you from whatever fears you have and step into a life on mission for God.