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Philadelphia: The Measure of Opportunity



In 1271, Niccolo and Mateo Polo went to visit the great Kubla Kahn, who at that time was ruler of India, China and most of the far east. Kubla Kahn was so impressed with the message of Christianity that he requested 300 trained missionaries be sent to his kingdom to learn more about the Christian religion. Three years passed, then five. Eventually two or three missionaries arrived on the scene, but it was too late.

The message to the at Church at Philadelphia is about seizing opportunities.

Write this letter to the angel of the church in Philadelphia. This is the message from the one who is holy and true, the one who has the key of David. What he opens, no one can close; and what he closes, no one can open: “I know all the things you do, and I have opened a door for you that no one can close. You have little strength, yet you obeyed my word and did not deny me. Look, I will force those who belong to Satan’s synagogue—those liars who say they are Jews but are not—to come and bow down at your feet. They will acknowledge that you are the ones I love. Because you have obeyed my command to persevere, I will protect you from the great time of testing that will come upon the whole world to test those who belong to this world. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. All who are victorious will become pillars in the Temple of my God, and they will never have to leave it. And I will write on them the name of my God, and they will be citizens in the city of my God—the new Jerusalem that comes down from heaven from my God. And I will also write on them my new name. Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches” (Revelation 3:7-13, NLT)

Jesus provided three clear images to help readers then and now understand how to interpret and act upon open doors of opportunity. First, the key of David. In Isaiah 22:21-22, Eliakim served as King Hezekiah’s steward. He possessed the “key of David,” which was sort of a master key, providing entrance to the Temple. We understand the importance of keys and will panic at the first notion that they have been misplaced. Keys represent access that allow one to enter through a locked door, but even more, are symbolic of authority as in who has the right to access what is behind the locked door. Jesus’ point is that God is sovereign. God has the master key, determining what doors are open and closed. We may identify opportunities, but only God can determine if the opportunity is really an opportunity or if its just another good idea.

The second image is that of the open door. Jesus was telling the church at Philadelphia that he had unlocked the door of opportunity for them. Even though they didn’t have a lot of resources, the door was standing open and they were expected to walk though it. Many times we evaluate opportunities on the basis of our resources and resourcefulness rather than trusting God to underwrite his calling. We cannot allow our own evaluations and assessments determine whether or not to proceed through open doors. It’s true: where God guides, he provides.

The final image comes from the promise Jesus gave to the Church if they would obey. He told them he would make them pillars. Pillars are symbolic of that which is stable and lasting. If you look at photographs of ancient ruins you’ll notice that though the walls and ceilings have collapsed into rubble, the pillars still stand. Here, I believe that Jesus is telling the Church that its future is secure in direct proportion to the opportunities we seize today.

What open door has God unlocked in front of you? Are you going to walk through it?

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