Saturday, May 24, 2003
Just pondering these passages today:
Who may climb the mountain of the LORD?
Who may stand in his holy place?
Only those whose hands and hearts are pure,
who do not worship idols
and never tell lies.
They will receive the LORD's blessing
and have right standing with God their savior.
They alone may enter God's presence
and worship the God of Israel.
- Psalm 24:3-6
But for those who are righteous,
the path is not steep and rough.
You are a God of justice,
and you smooth out the road ahead of them.
LORD, we love to obey your laws;
our heart's desire is to glorify your name.
All night long I search for you;
earnestly I seek for God.
For only when you come to judge the earth
will people turn from wickedness and do what is right.
- Isaiah 26:7-9
From the first passage in Psalm 24, it strikes me that the only ones able to "climb the mountain of God" are those whose outward actions and inner motivations are pure before Him. Whatever I might want to say about sin - whether it's the outer disobedience or the inner musings of stuff off-limits - the standard is very high. Why then do we sell real obedience so short? Why do we excuse ourselves with, "Well, God knows I'm trying," or, "I'm forgiven, so my disobedience doesn't really hurt God, does it?"
And in Isaiah 26, I see that only in the light of God's judgment will people like us, people around us begin to "turn from wickedness and do what is right." We can't escape repentance, and we can't deny the need for obedience. Anything short of those two things must also fall short of God, of salvation, and of life.
The question then is this: am I pure in my actions and in my motivations? and am I repentant, acknowledging my shortcomings before God and intentionally turning from them towards His righteousness and towards my obedience to that call? And then perhaps to tie that together with our discussions of evangelism - am I sharing *THAT* gospel with those around me?
As you can imagine, I've had a great deal of time to ponder stuff this week - being away from family and friends in a semi-foreign land, tired out of my mind most evenings but not sleepy enough to go to bed early (wait, that's like being at home, sometimes, too!). And the recurring thought has been, even before my trip to PR, on repentance, obedience, the need to share law and grace with those around me. I don't want to "guilt" people into heaven - and at the same time, the conviction of sin is the only real thing that gets our attention most of the time, isn't it? The "conclusion" I've come to is this: if a person feels guilty because of something I've said, and that guilt leads to some form of shame and humiliation and emotional retreat - then I probably acted/spoke from the flesh in "sharing the good news." But if that same guilt brings conviction that draws a person towards Christ and real Life - then the Holy Spirit is at work in us, and we are blessed for being conduits of His real mercy and real grace to others.
I don't change anyone; I only allow myself to be changed as God works, molds, probes, deconstructs and reconstructs in me. Jesus does the rest, judging and convicting deep into the heart so that real life can be born fresh and new.
How's that? - paz.