Wednesday, May 14, 2014
In Search Of Truth, Hebrews 4:14-16
Leviticus chapter 16 is a good chapter to read before these verses. It describes the annual duty of the high priest to enter the most sacred part of the temple (something done only once a year and only by the high priest) to offer a sacrifice for all the people of Israel, intended to "cover" or "make reconciliation for" their sins.
Jesus, the "great" high priest (superior to regular high priests), is said to have not simply entered the most sacred part of the temple, but to have passed through the heavens themselves and, by implication, come into true and direct contact with God on behalf of humanity.
In light of this, the author of Hebrews tells believers to hold on to their "confession", or "professed beliefs". And if being the ultimate spokesman to God on our behalf is not enough reason to hold on to our trust in Jesus, the author continues with more reasons in verse 15.
If the knowledge of God is without limit, then even apart from Jesus we couldn't argue that he doesn't know how we feel when we are faced with temptation or suffering. But the fact that Jesus is God, and experienced human life in completeness apart from sin, means that all doubt regarding his ability to sympathize should be removed.
His experience of temptation would actually have been worse than ours, since we often give in to temptation before feeling its full negative force. Jesus knows what it is like to live a life completely devoid of the temporary satisfaction and relief provided by giving in to temptation.
The author urges his readers to confidently approach God's throne in light of the great high priest, Jesus. He assures us that it is not a throne to be intimidated by. True, we don't deserve to have a relationship with the perfect God and King of the universe. But his throne is a "throne of grace". A throne of undeserved favor, that allows us access to the King even though we don't deserve it. And as we interact with God in this intimate, personal way, we can receive mercy (a withholding of deserved punishment) and grace ( favor we don't deserve) to help us with whatever is currently going on in our lives.
I've recently become convinced that truly depending on the mercy and grace provided by Jesus is the key to living life more for Yahweh. I can especially see this in light of some of my "geek traits".
I've begun to see more and more how much weight I continually give to the words of others. With me it's a classic case of nerd insecurity. I take pride in not fitting in, yet I want to be a valued and appreciated part of my social groups. I sometimes spout off opinions just to earn geek cred or prestige (sometimes with little caution and sensitivity) and become defensive when others do the same. When someone doesn't like something I created (or sometimes just something I like), I feel as though it's a judgment of my personal tastes, standards and my very worth as a person.
None of these things are obvious to me when they are happening. I only realize it when I take a moment to ask why I'm feeling the way I am in certain situations. It's an area I've grown in over the years but that I also take backward steps in now and then, as I feel I have recently.
I think the key that will allow me to continue growing out of my nerd insecurity is "the throne of grace". I believe that if I truly rest in the tireless forgiveness and sympathy of Jesus, if I truly believe that his love for me (and not my attributes or accomplishments) gives me worth and significance, my entire personality will get an upgrade. To the degree I "hold fast my confession" and confidently approach the throne of grace, I will not feel defensive, I will not fear social interaction, I will not be frustrated in my work and I will not be inhibited from engaging in what Yahweh is doing.
Instead, his throne of grace will relieve me of the demands I place on myself to be accomplished, talented, intelligent and significant, and favor me with the ability to endure and affect my circumstances on behalf of Jesus.