By REV. R. JOAQUIN WILLIS, D. MIN.
“Imagine what would happen if you went to a friend in the middle of the night and said, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread. An old friend traveling through just showed up, and I don’t have a thing on hand.’ Luke 11:5-6
One of the most distressing calls we can get is from a family member or a friend who calls or comes by at midnight. Reflecting on this thought; two things come to mind. First, Jesus’ parable of the surprise guest at mid- night, the host turns to a friend and knocks on his door, at midnight. Second, Dr. King’s sermon, “A Knock at Midnight.” In the parable Jesus says, “The friend answers from his bed, ‘Don’t bother me. The door’s locked; my children are all down for the night; I can’t get up to give you anything.’ “But let me tell you, even if he won’t get up because he’s a friend, if you stand your ground, knocking and waking all the neighbors, he’ll finally get up and get you whatever you need. “Here’s what I’m saying: Ask and you’ll get; Seek and you’ll find; Knock and the door will open.” Luke11:7-9
In 1967, Dr. King said “Although this parable is concerned with the power of persistent prayer, it may also serve as a basis for our thought concerning many contemporary problems and the role of the church in grappling with them. It is midnight in the parable; it is also midnight in our world, and the darkness is so deep that we can hardly see which way to turn.”
It is midnight within the social order. On the international horizon nations are engaged in a colossal and bitter contest for supremacy. Two world wars have been fought within a generation, and the clouds of an- other war are dangerously low.”
Jordan’s King Hussein said on 60 minutes on Sept. 24, that we are in “World War Three” and America just doesn’t know it!
Men like Kim Jong-Un, the dictator of North Korea, have nuclear weapons and could within seconds completely destroy major cities or countries of the world.
And the nuclear arms race continues too, as men like, President Vladimir Putin, of Russia, still test nuclear weapons and release poisoned gases from radioactive fallout into the world’s atmosphere.
The struggle between unbelief and faith is often very severe. Dr. King asked, “Will these circumstances and weapons bring the annihilation of the human race?”
In the New Testament book of Acts, in the early church, “The whole congregation of believers was united as one — one heart, one mind! They didn’t even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, ‘That’s mine; you can’t have it.’ They shared every- thing. And not a person among them was in need. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the money to the apostles. The apostles then distributed to each according to each person’s need.” Acts 4:32-35.
Today, the church still needs to respond when our neighbors are in need. King also said in 1967, “In the world today, the deep darkness of midnight is interrupted by the sound of a knock. On the door of the church millions of people knock. The popular clergyman preaches soothing sermons on “How to Be Happy” and “How to Relax.” Some have been tempted to revise Jesus’ command to read, ‘Go ye into all the world, keep your blood pressure down, and, lo, I will make you a well-adjusted personality.’ All of this is indicative that it is midnight within the inner lives of men and women.”
As it was for the church in Acts, it can be for the church now, when the Spirit of love and generosity is poured out on us, it shows in what we do for our neighbors.
The fact that none were in need was evidence of God’s grace in them. They didn’t call what they had their own because they expected at any minute to be stripped of it by Roman.
When our neighbors come to us in need and the Holy Spirit takes over, then our gifts are coordinated and exercised according to the will of God, and then our testimony about Christ has greater effect upon others.
The Rev. Dr. R. Joaquin Willis is pastor of the Church of the Open Door UCC in Miami’s Liberty City community. He may be reached at 305-759-0373 or firstname.lastname@example.org