Dressed for Sucess
Ephesians 3:7-13 (NLT)
7 By God’s grace and mighty power, I have been given the privilege of serving him by spreading this Good News.
8 Though I am the least deserving of all God’s people, he graciously gave me the privilege of telling the Gentiles about the endless treasures available to them in Christ. 9 I was chosen to explain to everyone this mysterious plan that God, the Creator of all things, had kept secret from the beginning.
10 God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord.
12 Because of Christ and our faith in him,[b] we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence. 13 So please don’t lose heart because of my trials here. I am suffering for you, so you should feel honored.
Dressed for Success
When it comes to asking girls out, young men today have it much easier than previous generations. The courage required to text an invitation to dinner pales in comparison to dialing a number, listening for the pick-up, searching for the right words in the moment, and standing by awkwardly for the response. There was just no way to avoid the exposure back then like there is today. Long before smart phones, a friend in college told me he had been so nervous to ask a girl out that he had to don a suit jacket to increase his confidence just to speak to her over the phone. I wonder what he would have worn if he had to approach the girl in person--a royal robe?!
When it comes to approaching God, many of us struggle with this same lack of confidence. We know God is holy and perfect, and deep down we may fear rejection if we come as we really are. Like a nervous suitor, we may even try to mask our sins with our Sunday best, recounting our good works and noting how unlike other sinners we are. But God is not fooled or impressed. To him, our Sunday best is akin to filthy rags. If it weren't for Jesus, our lack of confidence would be perfectly appropriate. After all, would anyone dare enter the presence of a King in filthy rags?
In the days before Jesus came in the flesh, God's people, the Israelites, certainly did not dare. There was only one permitted to approach God directly, and that was the High Priest. On the annual Day of Atonement, with God's special permission, the High Priest lifted the veil in the Temple and entered the Most Holy Place where the presence of God resided. There, he offered sacrifices for the sins of the people. It got the job done, but it did not provide perfect cleansing or freedom from guilt, nor satisfy the longing in people's hearts for real communion with God.
But thanks be to God, He sent Jesus who gave us a new and better way! Jesus became the High Priest and the sacrifice, giving his life once and for all. The moment Jesus died on the cross the veil in the Temple was torn in two, top to bottom. Now, by way of the blood of Jesus, anyone can freely approach God, and there is no need to dress up for it! That's because, when the Father sees someone coming in filthy rags, he runs out to meet him or her and offers his Son's robe of righteousness. That robe is the only confidence a child of God will ever need to approach the Heavenly Father from here to eternity.
Perhaps you have been waiting to approach God until you clean yourself up a bit first or log a few more good works. My encouragement to you today is to not delay--just start heading in his direction. Or, perhaps you have been wearing Christ's robe of righteousness for a while, but it has started to slip off your shoulders as you begin again trusting in your own goodness for access into the Lord's presence. My encouragement to you today, is to stop and reaffirm that only the work and righteousness of Jesus matters, then boldly and confidently return to your Father.
Father, it's unfathomable that someone like me could dare approach you with boldness and confidence, yet I accept that you made it possible by way of your son, Jesus. Today, I come to you, not relying on my own goodness, and despite my own sinfulness. I'm eternally grateful that when you look at me, you no longer see my filth, only your Son's robe of righteousness. Thank you for this restored relationship that makes it possible for me to commune with you.
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