“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”–Hebrews 4:14-16
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” –Luke 10:38-42
Have you ever gone into a professor’s office hours, or had a meeting with your manager? It’s NERVE-WRACKING, let me tell you. I have to make sure that I bring in whatever paper / project I’m working on, come well prepared, and speak clearly and directly so that I don’t take up too much of the professor/manager’s time. Sometimes we have to go through a lot of channels before even being able to make the appointment and access the professor/manager’s time.
Recently, I’ve realized that I’ve been treating God less like a loving parental figure and more like a professor I’m trying to please. This mindset leaks from my view of God and relationship with him and colors my views of people and my relationships with them. I’ve been trying to please people and live up to the standard inside of my head so much that I neglect focusing on God and spending time dwelling on His commands. This season I’ve been trying to balance a million things, get everything done ahead of time, consistently work out, maintain friendships, and be involved in extracurricular activities. As this season starts to wrap up, I feel worn out and burnt out. But instead of having God as my refuge through Christ, I’ve felt like I have to say all the right things in my prayers, confess all the sins, and pray for all the people. I’ve felt like I have to go through certain routines before I can just sit still with my Heavenly Father.
Aren’t we thankful that Christ removed any need to clean up ourselves by tearing down the barrier between us and our Heavenly Father? Jesus broke the curtain that sectioned off and separated people from God. It’s gone. Christ is the Way (John 14:8), and has generously given His people access to the God of the universe. We don’t have to say or do a thing. We can simply dwell, because Christ is enough. The death and resurrection of the Son provide us with the living hope of God and eternity in His presence, and constant access to God through the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Instead of trying to live for God, let’s start living with God.
Passages teaching that God is our peace, and that Jesus has come to bring us peace and unity with God, have stood out to me in my recent devos/life. God has not called His people to live a life of trying to measure up and working super hard on themselves by themselves, but has instead called us to live a life with Him, abiding in Him, and allowing Him to produce His fruit and glorify Himself through His Body (the Church). I love the metaphor Jesus uses in John 15 of Himself as the vine, and His people as the branches. It would be pretty silly if a branch tried to impress the vine with its pretty color and fancy edges. Anything the branch has is directly from the vine. The better the branch is, the closer it resembles the vine. God has not called us to work on our own to win and maintain His approval, but has instead called His followers to come to Him.
Imagine what this would look like in this new holiday season. Instead of comparing ourselves to our extended family and the cute Instagram holiday photos of friends, we can invite God into those moments with us and ask Him to reveal more of who He is and who He has called us to be. This fosters contentement instead of competition.
When the inevitable hurt or disappointment or unmet expectations come, we can run to God as our first response. When the joyful and sweet moments come, we can smile a prayer of thanks to our King. We can share the moments with Him, and learn from Him in them.
Let’s sit at the feet of our Savior (as Mary did in the passage above) instead of preparing Him things out of our own strength and resources. Instead of filling our hands with gifts for Him, let’s open our empty hands wide to Him and ask Him to fill us with His will and Spirit.