Sermon at Christ on Campus IV Conference
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us pray:
Praised be you, O God, and blessed in eternity, who with your Word comforts, teaches, exhorts, and warns us. May your Holy Spirit confirm the Word in our hearts, that we may not be forgetful hearers, but rather daily grow in faith, hope, love, and patience unto the end, and be kept unto salvation, through Jesus Christ, our Lord.
How mundane can you get?
Water, bread, wine, words – all of that is pretty commonplace, pretty everyday ordinary stuff. You may have had all four for lunch already.
How mundane can you get?
Apparently very mundane. Seemingly even more so than water, bread, wine, and words.
“I am the door.”
“I am the door”?!?! C’mon. I mean, “I am the good shepherd” – now there’s some beautiful imagery. “I am the way” – isn’t that what everyone is looking for? “I am the truth” – take that you post-modern relativists. “I am the bread of life” – and who wouldn’t want a bread-king for the belly?! “I am the light of the world” – meaningful, inspiring. “I am the life” – can’t get much more significant than that. Except for perhaps, “I am the resurrection.” Or how about “I am the root and offspring of David”? – prophetic, messianic! “I am the bright Morning Star” – stunning. And finally, simply “I am” – sends chills down your back, doesn’t it?!
But “I am the door”? What’s up with that? Is anyone here really inspired by doors? Aren’t they, Jim Morrison might tells us, just to break on through to the other side, so to speak? Aren’t doors just to get from one place to the other? A door is no destination. A door has no significance in and of itself, does it?
There are many doors on campus, leading to many rooms. Many and various gods have labs and offices and classrooms easily accessible, even promoted at your schools: Allah, Buddha, the New Age, Wiccans. Who’s your daddy? Or would you rather have an ‘ism’?: Post-Modernism, Liberalism, Secularism, Marxism, Relativism have erected buildings with doors not always so clearly marked. All these and many others many others all compete for the time and appetite of the student who saunters up to the smorgasbord of spirituality served on a regular basis – to mix metaphors and to get a Swedish word in.
Well, regardless of how you look at it – many dishes, lots of doors – we have some serious competition against Christ on campus.
Are our students – present or future – being led as sheep to the slaughter? Who is in the sheepfold of the students you serve or will serve or seek to serve? Which thief or robber or stranger has snuck in and is killing and destroying them? Are you, the doorkeeper, sleeping?
“I am the door”, says our Lord. Perhaps this is not so boring, after all. Perhaps a door can be important, literally vital.
“I am the door”, says Jesus. “I am the door of the sheep.” And then, in the verse immediately following our text, he says, “I am the good shepherd.” I’m not the only one who mixes metaphors, it appears.
Well, except for that Christ is not speaking metaphorically.
I’m sure you can understand what I mean, at least to a certain extent, in relation to his being the good shepherd – for Christ is indeed the good shepherd, the good pastor, in every way, finally and protectively and valiantly laying down his life for the sheep, for the student: for the goth, for the jock, for the sorority girl, and – guess what – for you, in your place, unconditionally for your blood-bought life. He really is the good shepherd. Well, guess what – he really is the door, as well. This is no metaphor. Metaphors do not save. Symbolism, as helpful and edifying [indicate around with arm] and beautiful and meaningful as it can be, ultimately does not rescue one single person, one solitary student, one you, from death.
“I am the door”, says Jesus. “Any other door you see”, he says, “any other door you have walked through today at your hotel, your car, this church, a restaurant, any other door is but a shadow, a taste, a small sample, a mere created indicator of the real door that I am. Any other door only has and gets its dooriness -“ its character and being as door – from THE door that I am. Without me, there is no dooriness, there are no doors.”
You walk through a door to get from outside this church building to the inside of it; you go through a car-door to travel from one place to a desired destination; you walk through the shower door to awaken from sleep and to get cleansed; you walk through a restaurant door to satisfy your hunger and get a bite to eat. Doors are portals, means of access to something different than that place from which you just came. – That’s what a door is.
“I am the door.” I am the only true door; I am the door, I am the way, I am your open access to the father and your locked protection against the thief. You must go through me. You walk through me, and in me, and of me to get from death to life!!!! You enter me and you are saved. You enter me, the perfect door, and you will have life, more and abundantly than you can ever ask or even imagine!!!
No, metaphors and symbols don’t save. Real stuff saves. The reality is Christ. Christ saves. And he really is the door. Not the mundane, commonplace, everyday, ordinary, passive doors – though, keep in mind, they are gifts of the Creator. Nonetheless, Christ is not those church/car/restaurant/hotel doors. Chris is THE door. “I am the door.” And that’s beautiful, meaningful, inspiring, significant, messianic, stunning, spine-tingling.
He is the door and he leads you through him to feed in his pasture – you enter by him and feed in his pasture on the word of God, feeding on the Word made flesh, feeding on the flesh and blood of the word. And that’s no metaphor. That’s real. Real stuff, real pasture, real presence.
And as you enter by him, and as you shepherd his sheep away from dangerous doors to lying labs and killing classrooms and awful offices, from false gods and vain ideologies, as you’re there and you speak his real, absolving words, the sheep will follow. “For, thank God, a child seven years old [or 18 or 22] knows what the Church is, namely, the holy believers and sheep who hear the voice of their Shepherd” (SA III.XII). And “the Holy Spirit works faith; where and when it pleases God, in them that hear the Gospel” (AC V), them that hear the voice of the Shepherd. And that shepherd is also the door, and that door is also the shepherd. But, if you didn’t already several weeks ago, I’ll leave that for you to work out next Misericordias Domini, next Good Shepherd Sunday. Today is just plain old mundane Tuesday, exciting thrilling Jesus the Door Tuesday.