Thursday, August 15, 2013

Draw Me Nearer

The writings of  Paul reflected his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus Road. This one time hater of Christians, fighting against the church, and putting Christ's followers in prison, had a complete change in his life when he personally met the Lord. We knew him as Saul back then, but now, because of his turn to Jesus and his valiant preaching ministry throughout the country, we know him as Paul. 

His ministry included bringing Jews and Gentiles together into one body. There were those Jews, even after they became Christians that felt before you become a Christian you must become a Jew, subject to all the rules and ordinances of the law of Moses. Paul's letter to the Galatians was to dispel some of the teaching they had received. It was a teaching from those who made Christianity conditional on people following tradition and man-made ideas rather than faithfully following Christ.

Then in Paul's Ephesian letter, he reminded the Gentiles that at one time, they were the outsiders. They weren't God's chosen people and Paul told them "In those days you were living apart from Christ. "  Further, he let them know that they "lived without God and without hope." Those verses are lifted from Ephesians 2:11-12.  Would you care to guess the first word of verse 13?  It is the word, "but."  That's a short little word, carrying an eternity full of meaning. Read the verse carefully.
"But now you belong to Christ Jesus. Though you were once far away from God, now you have been brought near to him by the blood of Christ."  Ephesians 2:13 NLT

Regardless of who we are, we have been in the same situation as the Gentiles to which Paul was speaking.  We might be followers of a denomination's list of rules and regulations, or perhaps  some religious leader's assigned set of things we must do. The fact that is powerfully exclaimed by Paul is simple and to the point.  It is the blood of Jesus that brings us near to God.
The point is further strengthened as Paul continues in the next verses which include this statement, "His (Jesus)  purpose was to make peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new person from the two groups. Together as one body Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death, and our hostility toward each other was put to death."
If the death of Jesus brings our salvation, and makes peace between these warring segments of society, how much more do we need to know this is our only hope of maintaining nearness to God?  Our small and petty differences which divide and separate us lose their significance when we learn our differences with others also demolishes our nearness to the Father.  Our ceaseless prayer  is, "Draw me nearer, Precious Lord."

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