Monday, February 2, 2009

The Gift of His Presence

I am reading Hebrews right now, and came across a passage this morning that always amazes me but that really hit home today.

Hebrews 10: 19Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

God recently has been showing me just what an amazing privilege it is to be able to come into the presence of the living God. The theme of Hebrews so far has been Christ as our high priest, who gives us eternal and unlimited access to God, who before Christ could only be experienced once a year by one person for a few moments. The rest of the year was spent in fearful sacrifices performed close to, but not in, the presence of God. Of course, this was symbolic of his presence since God's presence is everywhere, but even the people of God, the Israelites, were very limited in their communion with God. Only occasionally did he allow someone to experience his Spirit and interactive presence. The imperfection of men and women was a constant barrier to communion with God. Here, we are told that we now have not only a new way, but a living way to enter into the Most Holy Place, the presence of God. This living way never dies, because Christ will never die. It's the gift that keeps on giving. This Priest has sacrificed himself so that we have been perfected through his death, once and for all, and been given access to God through his life, eternally.

We are told that, because of this confidence, we should draw near to God... DRAW NEAR TO GOD! That in itself blows my mind. That we can choose to be near God and move towards him. We have constant access to his presence, because of Christ's mediation for us. We are to draw near to God with a "sincere heart in full assurance of faith." How do I draw near with a sincere heart? A sincere heart is one that knows what she is doing... drawing near to God. A heart that is not trying to deceive, but is wide open to the eyes of God and completely confident in God's acceptance. We do not need to, and should not, approach God trying to convince him or ouselves that we are worthy to be there or trying to hide our imperfections. We come to him acknowleging our imperfection but in full assurance of faith that Jesus has perfected us through his blood and therefore opened the way for us to God.

"Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess." Let us be dilligent and persistent about coming before God with sincere and honest hearts. Elsewhere in Scripture it says, "let us not neglect so great a salvation." Such a great price has been paid, events orchestrated, history changed, all so that we could come behind the veil and dwell in God's presence. How dare we neglect such a gift! How dare we go one moment forgetting that Christ gave his life so that we could be friends of God. How dare I not dwell in his presence every moment of every day, making little of what he has given. Oh, Lord, I do neglect so great a salvation! You offer yourself to me daily, constantly, yet I make little use of the opportunity. People die seeking you, and I am here before you, looking elsewhere. Forgive me, Father. Teach me, lead me, change me to hold UNSWERVINGLY to this hope, to this faith, to this gift. I love you, Father. You are perfect in all things and compassionate beyond measure.