The City of the Open Door
Liz Swick of Charleston, WV, USA
And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens: I know your works. Look, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. -Revelation 3:7-8
The ancient city of Philadelphia, in the Roman province of Asia Minor, was founded as an open door for Greek culture. Its inhabitants worshiped a variety of deities. Christian communities there were pressured to do the same or suffer consequences-not only from the Roman regime, but also from neighbors and those who claimed to be in alignment but conspired against them.
Despite high hopes for the city of “brotherly love,” it was prone to earthquakes, suffering nearly irreparable trauma in AD 17. The aftershocks went on for years causing buildings to crack, crumble, and fall. Most of the population had to live in huts outside the perimeter of the city they once called home. It was a less-than-ideal situation. How could the church offer anything to anyone in that circumstance? Jesus Christ, through a heavenly mediator to John, said, “On the contrary, this is indeed a church of opportunity!”
This small community could still make a difference as a representative of Jesus Christ. They were promised God’s holy city, which would not crack or fall, and would be open at all times-not by belief in political powers or nationalism or any other means, but by a heart set on Christ.
The community at Philadelphia was encouraged and reminded of its value amidst the brokenness of the world. There is much to offer by being a city or a people with an open door. The action advised here is simply to “listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (3:13). When things seem hopeless, listen and hope and persevere. Christ has already given us the promise, and there is much we can do in the meantime.
We can be the city of the open door.
“…all things in God and God in all things” (Mechthild of Magdeburg).
Reflecting on Presence
Breathe deeply and become present to the Presence with you here and now. Take a few moments in the silence to reflect prayerfully on the following questions:
Where have you been aware of God’s presence in your life?
What is God’s invitation to you in this story?
How do you desire to be more open to God’s presence and invitation tomorrow?
Today’s Prayer for Peace
Engage in a daily practice of praying for peace in our world. Click here to read today’s prayer and be part of this practice of peace.