Free Access (18-05-22)
Bible Reading: Hebrews 10:19-22
Since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.
Draw near to God and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8)
During the first few years of my ordained ministry I worked for eighteen months as part of the prison chaplaincy team in a high security prison. Each day I would drive up to the prison and go through their security checks. I would then sign for, and be given, a large bunch of keys. These keys gave me access around the prison. With them I could open internal gates, cell doors and the door to the prison chapel. Having the keys meant that I could be trusted to go freely around the prison and visit the prisoners in their cells or in the communal areas.
Flip this image around a little and we have an image of us being given the keys to have direct access to Almighty God. The keys that we have been given, though, are not bulky metal keys or the key cards you get in hotel doors and some cars, the keys that give us access to God are the death and resurrection of Jesus, whose blood cleanses our hearts from sin and who washes our bodies with the pure water of baptism.
Having direct access to our Loving Heavenly Father is not something we have earned, nor is it a status symbol. Rather we have access to God because he loves us and because he trusts us to use our freedom faithfully and responsibly.
But being able to come boldly into God's presence, as Charles Wesley wrote in the great hymn, ‘And can it be’ is only half of the story. James tells us that when we draw near to God, God himself draws near to us.
God, it seems, is waiting for us to move towards him so that he can move towards us. Actually it is God who makes the first move towards us, ultimately by sending his Son Jesus to live among us. Then, as we draw near to him, he draws near to us.
There are many times when we feel far away from God because of circumstances around us, or because of our own shortcomings. At these times, let us turn and draw apart for a moment, and let us draw near to our God, who is waiting to draw near to us.
Father God, I know that when I feel far from you, it is me that has move, not you.
Thanks you that through faith in Jesus I can draw close to you and that because of your amazing love, you draw close to me.
And can it be that I should gain