Yesterday we started talking about “open doors,” that experience when God leads you to do something by making a way to do it. To review, Paul is our expert as a first class church planter and kingdom pioneer. In I Corinthians 16:9 Paul reflects on his ministry plans, saying:
“I will stay on at Ephasus until Pentecost. A great door for effective work has opened to me. There are many who oppose me.”
So apparently, smooth sailing wasn’t what made it an open door. Life was difficult, in fact. But Paul was excited. At what? Well, there are probably other signals God gives us, but in this case, the key was the phrase EFFECTIVE WORK. Effective means “successful in producing the desired result,” according to the dictionary.
Successful. Producing. Desired results. The kingdom was being advanced. People were responding to the gospel and lives were being changed. The Greek includes the idea of continuation, so this wasn’t just a great Sunday service with a particularly gripping altar call: This was like when Bob gets saved and invites his uncle Buckley, who brings Jennie along — and they get saved too, which leads to the whole family finding Christ, which in turn makes the neighbors curious … and it was still spreading when Paul wrote the words. There was no sign of getting to the end of the trail. This wasn’t just a window of opportunity that came and went, this was an open door to walk into a real God-thing and see how far the rabbit trail went!
Interesting, isn’t it, that Paul described an open door as being a place where he was getting results? I think we’re so used to not getting results that this sounds like heresy to us, but there it is, in black and white. I think we often define results in terms of efficiency, not effectiveness. What makes things easier, when we can hit several birds with one stone. Paul wouldn’t like that idea. He even took a few stones on the chin at times — and took a real beating for this one in particular (Read the story in Acts!). Results with resistance. An open door.