Monday, April 04, 2011

The Way of the Cross (23)

Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD?
And who shall stand in his holy place?
(Psalm 24:3)

It's the question all of us must answer at some point in our lives. What kind of standard does God expect for us to dwell with him? How good is good enough?

When it comes to our standards, how would you answer if you're good? Maybe you give to charity and buy a Big Issue. Maybe you try not to swear, slander or speed. You avoid drink, drugs, and dreadlocks. Even if you're not perfect, well, at least you're better than that woman down the road. How good is good enough?

He who has clean hands and a pure heart,
who does not lift up his soul to what is false
and does not swear deceitfully.
He will receive blessing from the LORD
and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Such is the generation of those who seek him,
who seek the face of the God of Jacob.
(Psalm 24:4-6)

So is this psalm just a bit of a checklist? Pass the test and receive God's blessing, and dwell with him on his holy hill? Let's try it. Does not swear deceitfully - maybe not. Lift up your soul to what is false - pass. Clean hands - after every toilet stop and before preparing food. A Pure heart? Never. Not me. If having a pure heart is God's standard, then I know I'm in trouble. And you are too.

As Jesus taught in Mark 7, the heart is the centre of the person, and the seat of our rebellion against God. All those evil deeds come from evil desires which come from the heart. The heart of the problem is a problem of the heart. We can't even imagine what a pure heart would look like, because we're so caught up in sin.

If God's standard is the way to dwell with him, then we must all be considered out; we don't qualify; we don't deserve. Yet just when things look impossible - every human from Adam and Eve on have failed in the same way - David looks forward and sees a day coming when one will be qualified to enter God's presence; when the gates will swing wide open to welcome the hero - the one who will have fulfilled God's standards and won the victory, so that his people can join his triumph and give him the glory.

Lift up your heads, O gates!
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD, strong and mighty,
the LORD, mighty in battle!
Lift up your heads, O gates!
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of flory?
The LORD of hosts,
he is the King of glory!
(Psalm 24:7-10)

The Jesus who satisfied the Law, who obeyed the Father, who went to the cross, is risen, ascended, glorified - by his stripes we are healed; by his righteousness, we are counted righteous in God's sight.

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