In Eat this Book, Eugene Peterson teaches us to chew on a passage of scripture, digest it and put it to use in practical ways. Our Christian fathers and mothers called this process Lectio Divina. In this passage we are reminded that Christ’s sacrificial death cleared the way for us to “walk right up” to a holy God.
Hebrews 10: 19-23 (MSG) – “Walk Right up to God”
So, friends, we can now—without hesitation—walk right up to God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has cleared the way by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our priest before God. The “curtain” into God’s presence is his body. So let’s do it—full of belief, confident that we’re presentable inside and out. Let’s keep a firm grip on the promises that keep us going. He always keeps his word.”
This passage is full of theological references and explanations. However, what strikes me today is the author’s directive to boldly walk into God’s presence. Although a curtain separated God and God’s people in the Old Testament, that curtain was destroyed (physically and metaphorically) at the crucifixion of Jesus. As Sharon H. Ringe says, “our posture is now different.” Unlike the Hebrews, we don’t have to wait anxiously outside the Holy of Holies for the High Priest, who went behind the curtain to intercede with God. We can approach God boldly on our own because “Jesus opened a ‘living way’ to God” (Working Preacher, April 2, 2010).
The encouragement to “walk right up to God” is important because too often we are skittish or too circumspect or downright afraid to approach God honestly. The author of Hebrews reminds us that drawing near to God is our privilege. We need not cower behind our guilt or shame. Jesus’ death gave us the right to boldly and confidently (but not irreverently) walk into God’s presence. As the Message says, we are “presentable inside and out.” We can share anything, ask anything, dream anything, hope anything with our Father God with the assurance that we will be heard and loved.
♥ Whenever you waver in the assurance of your salvation or in your freedom to come to God and lay out your problems and your mistakes, confess that insecurity to God. Create a picture in your mind of Hebrews 10:22 (NIV) which speaks of “having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” You may even want to keep this picture of cleansing in your mind as you take a shower or bath this week. Think of your sins being washed away.
♥ Hebrews 11 tells us that our faith is our assurance “of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith is not just the intellectual content of your belief. Faith is something that is practiced. Spiritual formation, then, consists of ensuring the practicability of our faith in everyday life. For example, we not only need to be bold in walking up to God, we need to be bold in speaking about that God to others – especially in the political climate of 2017. If you feel intimidated in conversations and choose to be still about the God who is in control of the world, pray every day for the strength to express your faith in all circumstances. Sharing your faith is one of the best ways to be assured of your faith.
♥ Remind yourself when you wake up, during the day, and in the evening that God’s promises are true. God always keeps his word. Hope is there for us if we accept it.
MORE FOOD FOR THOUGHT
“In Jesus of Nazareth, one person shows how completely we can belong to God; how much freedom and humanity, how much courage and self-forgetfulness one can possess when one has been found by God and has surrendered” (Rule for a New Brother).