God knows our innermost thoughts, wishes, and needs. So why do we pray? We’re not telling God something he doesn’t already know. He asks us to seek him, though he is omnipresent. He tells us to knock, and the door will be opened, yet he also says he stands and the door and knocks. Is this another Bible mystery? An oxymoronic enigma?
I don’t think so– I think it is a case of God laying out some ground rules of relationships– his with us, us with him, and even us with each other. God is spirit, but he ask us to build dwelling places where he can meet with us– temples, tabernacles, churches. He wants to abide, to live in relationship and companionship. Ultimately, he offers to dwell in each of us. But he has created each of us as a unique being. And just like a unique building, we have walls and windows and doors. When we reach our eternal dwelling place, this will still be so. We will be changed, purified, sanctified, and glorified, but our souls will not be subsumed or merged into a single temple or a single “soul.” Heaven is not like Nirvana. God is eternally God and we are eternally his creation. Living in communion is not the same as merging or evolving into something not ourselves. We remain uniquely individual, and as such, we need to learn to take initiative to open our doors and windows– to interact, to serve, and to honor each other.
Have you ever been blindsided by someone who expected you to read their mind? You know they are hurt and angry, but you find out later (sometimes much later!) that they wanted you to comment on their new hairstyle, or they expected you to ask them out for coffee. Maybe you know the pain of being on the other end– wishing someone would notice your weight loss or ask about your day. God wants us to learn to reach out, to ask, seek, and knock, instead of isolating ourselves behind locked doors. We are to be active, not passive, about noticing others, sharing with and including others, and serving others. But we are to do it in love and humility– with grace and mercy and love, not with bullhorns, fists, or combat boots.
God is the Almighty one– yet he stands at the door and knocks. He could barge through our stubbornness and rebellion, and drag us kicking and screaming to the altar. He could tear down the walls of isolation and storm crush our pretentious justifications and excuses. But he stands, waiting for us to open the door, and seek his face. The one who spoke the universe into being waits for us to begin the conversation!