It is 1973. Several employees of the Kreditbanken in Stockholm, Sweden are being held hostage in the bank vault. Surrounded by the wealth they are on payroll to protect, the employees begin to react in increasingly strange ways over the six days of their incarceration. Rather than embracing the efforts of the police who have come to their aid, the hostages reject the assistance offered them, and side with their abductors. They have become emotionally attached to their kidnappers through a psychological phenomenon now known as the ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ or ‘capture-bonding’. Their bonding to their captors has made them unwilling to invite or accept help from true rescuers.
As Jesus concludes his final message to the seven churches, he speaks of the need for captives to invite help. See if you can hear it.
“Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
We might say we have one scenario and two kinds of people on earth: all of us are captives to sin; some believe we don’t need God, and some believe we do. The greatest piece of Literature on earth supports this synopsis. Those of us who believe we don’t need God are prone to refute the facts. We will ignore, argue, or blatantly discredit God’s Word, God’s followers and even God Himself in order to support our worldview. We think our value as prime eyewitness of our own life experience establishes credulity in our case.
But the ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ tells us differently, doesn’t it? It describes a phenomenon where victims can lose the ability to correctly understand the situation. Kidnappers are seen as confidantes, rescuers as rivals. Satan, humankind’s worst enemy has availed himself of this phenomenon and duped us. We have bonded with this enemy-captor and cannot see clearly through the fog. Those of us who believe we do need God have made a choice to trust the facts presented in the Bible regardless of our Stockholm syndrome predisposition.
Jesus is not giving out this invitation. He’s asking for it. He’s saying, ‘I’m waiting here to be invited into the core of your being. I’m ready to be the honoured guest of your heart, to take over the leadership of your life.’ It’s an invitation we need to make on a daily basis, to acknowledge Jesus as Liberator, Confidante, and Sovereign. He will not intrude; He waits for our daily invitation.
The Christian life, as described here by Jesus the Redeeming One, is an upwardly spiraling coil: Jesus’ deep love for us is communicated — we respond by inviting Him to generally transform our lives — He communicates specific areas in our character that need changing — we ignore, balk, or procrastinate — He rebukes us, offering us the discipline we desperately need — we submit, obey and find peace in His presence — we invite Him deeper into our hearts — He draws us (metaphorically) upward; and the cycle repeats.
If we find ourselves today in step four, the ignoring, balking, procrastinating stage, Jesus’ message today is for us. We’ve allowed ourselves to be capture-bonded back into the old ways, but Jesus is near; His discipline is for our good and He is only an invitation away from drawing us further up and further into His plans to transform us. Those who take this step He calls overcomers. That’s a good thought, isn’t it? Let’s call to Him; He’s only an invitation away.
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