Do you ever feel like you’re up against a barrier?
The password you’ve forgotten – so you can’t check your phone bill. The road that’s been closed – so you can’t get to work on time. The property prices that are soaring – so you can’t buy a house. The job you’re not qualified for – so you can’t pursue your dream career. Maybe even the colour of your skin, gender, additional need or age – perhaps this causes you to miss out on opportunities or even not to be treated as equal with other people.
God puts up no barriers
God puts up no barriers. I do, though – I want a relationship with him on my terms, and will pick and choose which bits of my life I’ll let him be sovereign over. “I’ll do anything you want me to do, Lord… so long as I don’t have to give up my own comfort!” I put up a barrier between myself and him.
The Bible’s first example of people putting up a barrier between themselves and God comes very, very early on. God has just created a world which is perfect. He has created human beings. The human beings are free, and don’t even feel any shame about being naked. They have something useful to do, caring for God’s wonderful world. They’re following God’s ways perfectly and he is totally present with them — no barriers! Then they break the one rule God has given them, effectively turning their backs on him. God calls out to them – not scolding, but longing to find them and walk with them once more. It’s too late. Their wrongdoing has put up a barrier.
It’s therefore not surprising that the barrier (human refusal to listen to God) has continued to work itself out through the ages. Tragically, parts of the church have even been complicit in this, making it hard for people to enter God’s presence. Maybe you’ve experienced this (I have). If you have, I’m sorry.
God loves us too much to leave us like this.
It was always God’s plan to smash down that barrier. So he gives us the best thing he has to give: his son. Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross smashes down the barrier between God and humans, taking our shame away. At the moment of Jesus’ death, “the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split…” (Matthew 27:51). The sound of it echoes in my ears, assuring me that I can stand confidently in God’s presence, that I can live in right relationship with him. He won’t shut me out.
If you’re hitting a barrier and you want to get to know your God again, don’t look at how many good deeds you’ve notched up this week. Don’t look at your gender, level of education, physical or mental strength, age or skin colour. Don’t even look at the leader of your local church (as helpful as I hope s/he is!). Look at Jesus.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12)
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace” (Ephesians 1:7)
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