Thursday, December 11, 2014

"O Come, Let Us Adore Him!"

One of the wonderful gifts that we have because Christ came into our world is the gift of access to God. Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1-2, ESV, my emphasis). Access to God has both universal and exclusive qualities. Access has been made possible for all people, but it is exclusive to those “justified by faith.”

The universal nature of God’s plan is wondrously brought out in many of the Gospel accounts that we associate with the Christmas story. For instance, the “Wise Men” or “Magi” were from the East, they were Gentiles (non-Jews) from a pagan land and yet they were drawn to the hope of the Messiah. “They came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born King of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him” (Matt. 2:1b-2). The hope of salvation (access to God) led them to undertake their long journey and when they found the Christ child, they were not disappointed. “They were overjoyed” and upon finally seeing Jesus, “they bowed down and worshiped him” (2:10-11).

That access to God would be made possible for all people was at the heart of Simeon’s song of praise sung after he himself saw the Christ child. “For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all people, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel” (Lk. 2:30-32, my emphasis). No wonder the “Wise Men” came! The light of Christ has come, may we too bow down and adore Him!

The shepherds in the fields watching their flocks were considered religiously unclean because of their work and were looked down upon among their own people. They were essentially outsiders even though they were on the inside. The message of Christ’s birth brought by the angel of the Lord, “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:11), first came to the outsiders, shepherds, unclean in a unlikely place.

God was saying something very powerful in these first stories, something that will be said repeatedly in Jesus’ ministry in words and actions. Jesus is a friend of sinners (Matt. 11:19). God desires all people to come to know Him (Jn. 3:16; 2 Pet. 3:9). God didn’t send His Son for good people, he came for all people. The barriers have been torn down, access to God has been made possible for all people, all who will recognize their need and come to God through Jesus Christ. “For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim. 2:5). “O Come, Let Us Adore Him!”
So what does this gift of access mean for the believer? For one, it means you have a constant friend in Jesus, you’re never alone, you can call upon Him. Listen to God’s invitation and promise to you. “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jer. 33:3). Prayer opens for us a whole new and beautiful view of life.

The year is 1940, four siblings – Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie – are among the children evacuated from London during WWII to escape the Blitz. They are sent to the countryside to live with professor Digory Kirke. While the four children explore the house, Lucy climbs into the wardrobe and discovers that inside is a magical forest in a land called Narnia, a land far from the very real bombs dropping in London. So begins C. S. Lewis’s story, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. In your prayer closet, your spiritual wardrobe, your quiet place, you can call upon God the Father who has created this vast universe, who ushers you into a place far more wonderful, beautiful and real than Narnia. “O Come, Let Us Adore Him!”

The believer has access to God. This is a liberating and life-changing truth but it also means that you are responsible to the God who created you. As Baptists we have long cherished the teaching of the priesthood of the believer, that every human being is responsible before God and can respond to God directly without any human mediator. No church, institution or human being can mediate your relationship before God. You have been given a great gift, the gift of freedom, the gift of access to God’s grace in Christ. How tragic it would be to throw it all away through neglect or apathy. “O Come, Let Us Adore Him!”

In the Chronicles of Narnia, after Lucy returns from Narnia that first time, she tells her siblings joyfully what she has discovered although at first they don’t believe. But she can’t keep the story of Narnia a secret. As believers, we too cannot keep what we know a secret. We want all people to know that access to God is now possible, the way to the kingdom of heaven has been opened! You too can embrace the Christ of Christmas and by doing so gain entrance into the kingdom of heaven! “O Come, Let Us Adore Him, Christ the Lord!”

“For His Glory!”
Pastor Joe