Near the end of Paul’s first inspired letter to the Corithians, the Apostle writes these words…
For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.
1 Corinthians 16:9
Paul talked a great deal about wanting to visit the brethren at Corinth. But instead of leaving immediately for their city, he says that he feels compelled to stay where he is. As he puts it, an opportunity for evangelism has sprung up and he is duty bound to address it. Paul says it’s “a great and effective door” that’s been opened unto him.
Many Christians today use the expression “door of opportunity” (or like-phrase) to describe a sudden—perhaps providential—possibility that arises to reach the lost. The phrase finds its origin here, but probably Christians were using it in Paul’s day already and he just codified it in Scripture.
Very likely the phrase has as its roots in the various sermons and parables of Jesus that talk about “doors.” There was the door that was shut so that the foolish virgins could not enter (Matthew 25). There was the door that was shut on those who needed help but found none (Luke 11). There is the door that is shut on those who wish to enter but are not known of the master of the house (Luke 13). Most famously, on a positive note, there is Jesus Himself, who says He is the “Door” to enter the sheepfold (John 10).
Doors are shut to those who are not saved. The lost are outside of Christ. They are removed from the blessings found therein and can not enter on their own accord, because the door is shut. To open the door, one must be obedient to Christ. From that Christians began to see their evangelistic message as “the opening of the door” to the lost. So when a brother or sister says “a door has been opened over there” that’s Christian-lingo for “there are souls that are receptive to the Gospel in that location.”
Rarely though, are such doors swung wide open for all to see. Usually they are just cracked, ever so slightly. There may be one or two people in an area, or a group, or a family, that might be receptive to the Word of God. You wouldn’t know, however, if you didn’t keep an eye out. And they won’t be reached, if you don’t push the door open.
There are people around us who need to be reached with the Gospel. Most of them do, in fact, since the lost vastly outnumber the saved. But of the many who need it, only a few will actually hear it. Those few are out there, hiding behind doors that are only just cracked open. Find them…and push them open!